Stephen Thompson

Stephen Thompson is an editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he curates Song of the Day, fusses over the placement of commas and appears as a frequent panelist on the podcasts All Songs Considered and Pop Culture Happy Hour. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the weekly NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk.

In 1993, Thompson founded The Onion's entertainment section, The A.V. Club, which he edited until December 2004. In the years since, he has provided music-themed commentaries for the NPR programs Weekend Edition Sunday, Weekend All Things Considered and Morning Edition, on which he earned the distinction of becoming the only member of the NPR Music staff ever to sing on an NPR newsmagazine. (Later, the magic of AutoTune transformed him from a 12th-rate David Archuleta into a fourth-rate Cher.) Thompson's entertainment writing has also run in Paste magazine, The Washington Post and The London Guardian.

During his tenure at The Onion, Thompson edited the 2002 book The Tenacity of the Cockroach: Conversations with Entertainment's Most Enduring Outsiders (Crown) and copy-edited six best-selling comedy books. While there, he also coached The Onion's softball team to a sizzling 21-42 record, and was once outscored 72-0 in a span of 10 innings. Later in life, Thompson redeemed himself by teaming up with the small gaggle of fleet-footed twentysomethings who won the 2008 NPR Relay Race, a triumph he documents in a hard-hitting essay for the forthcoming anthology This Is NPR: The First Forty Years (Chronicle).

A 1994 graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Thompson now lives in Silver Spring, Md., with his two children and a Frogger machine. His hobbies include watching reality television without shame, eating Pringles until his hand has involuntarily twisted itself into a gnarled claw, using the size of his Twitter following to assess his self-worth, touting the immutable moral superiority of the Green Bay Packers and maintaining a fierce rivalry with all Midwestern states other than Wisconsin.

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All Songs Considered Blog
4:08 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

Hear 'Follow,' A Warmly Chiming Mood-Setter From Diiv

Diiv.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri June 22, 2012 8:09 am

There's more than one way to qualify as a "guitar band": You can shred, sure, or you can lay down layer upon layer of guitars to weave an intricate tapestry. For Diiv — yes, the group was once called "Dive," and yes, it's from Brooklyn — guitars dominate, but as warm, chiming mood-setters.

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All Songs Considered Blog
2:27 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Absent For Years, Cat Power Takes A Long Road To 'Ruin'

Chan Marshall, a.k.a. Cat Power.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri June 22, 2012 8:09 am

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Tiny Desk Concerts
10:38 pm
Sun June 17, 2012

Glen Hansard: Tiny Desk Concert

Emily Bogle NPR

Glen Hansard dropped out of school at 13 to busk on the streets of Dublin full-time, and he's spent the nearly three decades since performing in many configurations: at the head of the rock band The Frames, on stage at the Oscars with Marketa Irglova (they won in 2008 for "Falling Slowly," from Once), at innumerable concert halls and opera houses in

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First Listen
10:33 pm
Sun June 17, 2012

First Listen: Beachwood Sparks, 'The Tarnished Gold'

Beachwood Sparks' first album in 11 years, The Tarnished Gold, comes out June 26.
Jim Goodrich Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu July 12, 2012 5:02 pm

Audio for this feature is no longer available.

It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that every piece of music needs to be important; that it must impart something meaningful, reinvent, redefine or otherwise aspire to greatness. Next to the groundbreaking, the merely happy-making can seem too minor to merit discussion, let alone celebration. But the ability to convey the soothing breeziness of a warm summer evening is no trifling matter for those craving comfort and escape.

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First Listen
10:33 pm
Sun June 10, 2012

First Listen: Glen Hansard, 'Rhythm And Repose'

Glen Hansard's new album, Rhythm and Repose, comes out June 19.
Conor Masterson

Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 8:08 am

Audio for this feature is no longer available.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
9:03 am
Mon June 4, 2012

Kelly Hogan: Tiny Desk Concert

Michael Katzif NPR

The reliable backup singer who seizes the spotlight is the stuff of entertainment-industry fairy tales, but Kelly Hogan hasn't actually had to labor in obscurity.

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First Listen
10:33 pm
Sun June 3, 2012

First Listen: The Tallest Man On Earth, 'There's No Leaving Now'

The Tallest Man on Earth's new album, There's No Leaving Now, comes out June 12.
Julia Mard

Originally published on Wed June 13, 2012 10:34 pm

Audio for this feature is no longer available.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
10:58 am
Thu May 31, 2012

Patrick Watson: Tiny Desk Concert

Michael Katzif NPR

Originally published on Thu May 31, 2012 1:31 pm

Patrick Watson has a lovely, flexible voice and a gift for wringing evocative sounds out of everything from vintage keyboards to bicycle chains, but his real gift lies in his ability to maximize beauty at all times; to guide every noise in such a way that it coheres into something dramatic and graceful. When the Polaris Prize winner performs, he seems almost hypnotized by the sounds around him, yet every second and every unlikely component seems plotted to maximize its impact.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
9:27 am
Sun March 4, 2012

Laura Gibson: Tiny Desk Concert

Doriane Raiman/NPR

We call her the Typhoid Mary of the Tiny Desk.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
5:39 pm
Sat March 3, 2012

Laura Gibson Plays Tiny Desk Concert No. 200

Doriane Raiman/NPR

Originally published on Mon March 5, 2012 7:57 pm

We call her the Typhoid Mary of the Tiny Desk.

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