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.

Pages

Live in Concert
2:06 pm
Wed May 9, 2012

Spiritualized In Concert

J. Spaceman performs during Spiritualized set at The 9:30 Club on Thursday, May 10.
Michael Katzif NPR

Originally published on Sun July 21, 2013 2:56 pm

Rock 'n' roll is most often the stuff of youth and vitality — of desire, of frustration, of love and lust and other ephemeral concerns. Spiritualized singer Jason Pierce (a.k.a. J. Spaceman) knows his way around music's role in such hedonistic pursuits, but his work also reflects an acute understanding of mortality, loss and the desire to lean on a force greater than oneself.

Read more
First Listen
9:33 pm
Sun May 6, 2012

First Listen: Best Coast, 'The Only Place'

Best Coast's new album, The Only Place, comes out May 15.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed May 16, 2012 8:21 pm

Audio for this feature is no longer available.

For all its frothily primitive charm, Best Coast's 2010 debut Crazy for You isn't exactly ambitious: It's going for, well, frothily primitive charm, captured in deceptively simple sentiments like "When I'm with you, I have fun." Darkness stays mostly confined to the instrumental shading, and in the want-bordering-on-need that seeps into Bethany Cosentino's flat but approachable delivery.

Read more
Tiny Desk Concerts
7:03 am
Mon April 30, 2012

Hospitality: Tiny Desk Concert

Emily Bogle NPR

Originally published on Mon April 30, 2012 3:46 pm

The New York band Hospitality makes music that's unmistakably friendly and welcoming — it's hug-and-a-handshake pop that lives up to its name by jangling and chiming comfortably. The songs on the band's self-titled debut, out earlier this year, have a gliding quality to them that's immensely pleasing; Hospitality doesn't overwhelm so much as it wears listeners down with a subtle charm offensive.

Read more
First Listen
9:37 pm
Sun April 29, 2012

First Listen: Sara Watkins, 'Sun Midnight Sun'

Sara Watkins' new album, Sun Midnight Sun, comes out May 8.
Aaron Redfield Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun May 13, 2012 7:48 pm

Audio for this feature is no longer available.

Read more
Monkey See
8:03 am
Thu April 26, 2012

For Fans Of The NFL Draft, A Heady Cocktail Of Hope And Sloth

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu April 26, 2012 9:10 am

Read more
First Listen
11:26 am
Mon April 9, 2012

First Listen: Horse Feathers, 'Cynic's New Year'

Horse Feathers' new album, Cynic's New Year, comes out April 17.
John Clark Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 2:18 pm

Audio for this feature is no longer available.

Read more
SXSW: Live From Austin
11:48 pm
Thu March 15, 2012

La Vida Boheme, Live In Concert: SXSW 2012

Rafael Perez (left) and Henry D'Arthenay of Venezuelan rock band La Vida Boheme.
Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 7:46 pm

Backs to the stage, shirts drenched and spattered with blue paint, La Vida Boheme opened NPR Music's SXSW day party in kinetically jumpy style Thursday, setting the tone for an afternoon of genre-jumping surprises. By the time the Venezuelan dance-rock band hit the "gabba gabba hey" bit in the chorus of the set-opening "Radio Capital," it was clear that nuance would curl up and take a backseat to chant-along charm and stage-shaking energy.

Read more
SXSW: Live From Austin
11:47 pm
Thu March 15, 2012

Sugar Tongue Slim, Live In Concert: SXSW 2012

Sugar Tongue Slim brought a live band along with samples by Gotye and Kavinsky to his set at The Parish in Austin, Texas.
Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

Originally published on Thu April 19, 2012 10:06 am

The first thing that jumps out about rising rapper Sugar Tongue Slim is his playful, funny, generous spirit. Surrounded by a lively and crackling backing band — a laptop, turntables, bass and a full drum kit — STS cut a smiling and conspiratorial figure on stage at NPR Music's SXSW day party, held Thursday at The Parish in Austin, Texas.

Read more
SXSW: Live From Austin
11:46 pm
Thu March 15, 2012

Lower Dens, Live In Concert: SXSW 2012

Baltimore's Lower Dens, led by singer/guitarist Jana Hunter, perform at NPR Music's SXSW day party at The Parish in Austin, Texas.
Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

Originally published on Sun May 12, 2013 7:30 pm

Lower Dens' music favors mood over stage-stalking showmanship: Singer Jana Hunter's icy-cool demeanor sets a hauntingly atmospheric tone that's all mystery, washes of guitar-saturated noise and the difficult emotions that lie, unexpressed, beneath the surface. Mixing songs from 2010's majestic Twin Hand Movement with material from the hotly anticipated Nootropics, Lower Dens seethed through a gorgeous, brooding set at NPR Music's SXSW day party, held Thursday at The Parish in Austin, Texas.

Read more
SXSW: Live From Austin
11:46 pm
Thu March 15, 2012

Polica, Live In Concert: SXSW 2012

Channy Leaneagh of the Minneapolis-based band Polica, at NPR's SXSW day party in Austin, Texas.
Katy Hayes Luke for NPR

Originally published on Thu April 19, 2012 10:04 am

Not many bands can boast two drummers and an uncluttered sound, but that's Polica, who somehow provided a seamless transition between rapper Sugar Tongue Slim and the atmospheric rock band Lower Dens at NPR Music's SXSW day party, held Thursday at The Parish in Austin, Texas.

Read more

Pages