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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Music
2:37 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Another Year, Another 'Christmas With The Chipmunks'

The Chipmunks, left to right: Simon, Theodore, Alvin.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 5:37 pm

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All Songs Considered
6:14 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

We Get Mail: Learning To Love Music You Don't Know

Virtually every genre of music yields enough new material to overwhelm even the most dedicated listener.
Lars Gotrich NPR

Originally published on Tue May 28, 2013 1:26 pm

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Best Music Of 2012
6:09 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

Stephen Thompson's Top 10 Albums Of 2012

Japandroids' music celebrates the joy of a life lived loudly.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 12:18 pm

The caveats practically write themselves at this point: Top 10 lists are subjective and inherently insufficient to sum up any given year in music. They capture the opinions of one person and one person only — think "favorite," not "best" — and are bound to reflect not only individual tastes, but also individual experiences over the course of a given year.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
5:44 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

Lyle Lovett: Tiny Desk Concert

Lyle Lovett performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Nov. 13, 2012.
Ryan Smith NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:48 pm

For all of Lyle Lovett's considerable artistic gifts — a distinctive voice, easygoing charisma, rare talent for wordplay — his greatest attribute may be the way he radiates infectious calm. He's a one-time tabloid fixture who writes wry, bittersweet songs of longing, but Lovett in person is like a vortex into which stress and drama disappear.

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All Songs Considered
1:00 pm
Mon November 26, 2012

We Get Mail: How Much Music Is Too Much Music?

With so much new music, who has time to listen to this? And with all this old music, who has time to listen to the new stuff?
passetti via Flickr

Originally published on Tue May 28, 2013 1:29 pm

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Tiny Desk Concerts
12:51 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

Ben Gibbard: Tiny Desk Concert

Benjamin Gibbard performs a Tiny Desk Concert at the NPR Music offices on Nov. 8, 2012.
Lauren Rock NPR

Originally published on Mon November 19, 2012 2:17 pm

Ben Gibbard has spent so much time at the head of various bands — Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service, All-Time Quarterback — that it's easy to forget how well his sweetly brainy songs work in a solo acoustic setting. His melodies are sturdy enough to withstand skeletal arrangements, and though his persona is unassuming by nature, he remains a charismatic and charming live performer.

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All Songs Considered
12:19 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

We Get Mail: What To Enjoy And How To Enjoy It

Don't dare besmirch the good name of Carly Rae Jepsen.
Vanessa Heins Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue May 28, 2013 1:30 pm

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All Songs Considered
10:36 am
Tue November 13, 2012

Song Premiere: Ra Ra Riot, 'Beta Love'

Ra Ra Riot.
Shervin Lainez Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 9:46 am

Ra Ra Riot has experienced constant change in its six-year existence, from commercial success and an aborted label deal to the 2007 death of drummer John Pike. But the band's sound has never shifted as radically as it does on its new album, Beta Love, which comes out Jan. 22. With the departure of cellist Alexandra Lawn — there's that constant change again — Ra Ra Riot shifts gears once more, dialing down the string arrangements in favor of a more synth-driven sound.

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All Songs Considered
6:34 pm
Wed November 7, 2012

We Get Mail: How To Make A Mixtape Without Looking Like A Creeper

Artwork for Every Breathe You Take: The Singles by The Police.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue May 28, 2013 1:32 pm

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Field Recordings
4:39 pm
Sat August 25, 2012

The Avett Brothers: Hot Tea And Honey

The Avett Brothers Field Recordings video shoot
Mito Habe-Evans NPR

Originally published on Tue October 2, 2012 9:52 am

Seth and Scott Avett spend a good chunk of their lives on one tour bus or another, so asking them to perform in one isn't all that different from asking them to perform in one of their own living rooms. They may be far away from their native North Carolina — to be exact, they're captured here in a Camden, N.J., parking lot in conjunction with the XPoNential Music Festival — but the setting is cozy enough for Seth Avett to brew tea before performing.

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