Stephen Thompson

Stephen Thompson is an editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he writes the advice column The Good Listener, 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, All Things Considered and Morning Edition, on which he earned the distinction of becoming the first 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 book 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 room full of vintage arcade machines. 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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First Listen
9:33 pm
Sun May 27, 2012

First Listen: Japandroids, 'Celebration Rock'

Japandroids' new album, Celebration Rock, comes out June 5.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 11:42 am

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Japandroids' music proves, yet again, that superlatives aren't interchangeable: You might not call the guitar-and-drums duo's songs "great," exactly, but damned if they aren't awesome. The band's 2009 debut, Post-Nothing, is brash and blistering, yet also vaguely formless — the sound of two guys who clamor to make so much heroically uplifting noise, they sometimes wind up stepping on each other in the process.

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First Listen
9:33 pm
Sun May 27, 2012

First Listen: Kelly Hogan, 'I Like To Keep Myself In Pain'

Kelly Hogan's new album, I Like to Keep Myself in Pain, comes out June 5.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed June 6, 2012 7:29 am

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Tiny Desk Concerts
10:50 am
Mon May 21, 2012

Yann Tiersen: Tiny Desk Concert

Doriane Raiman NPR

Originally published on Mon May 21, 2012 5:25 pm

French singer, multi-instrumentalist and film composer Yann Tiersen isn't massively well-known, but he did craft the score for the beloved 2001 film Amelie, about which virtually everything is held in massively high regard. Since then, Tiersen has built a name for himself as a solo artist who gently stretches the boundaries of pop music.

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First Listen
9:38 pm
Sun May 20, 2012

First Listen: Regina Spektor, 'What We Saw From The Cheap Seats'

Regina Spektor's new album, What We Saw From the Cheap Seats, comes out May 29.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sat June 2, 2012 9:56 am

Audio for this feature is no longer available.

A genuine oddball with a salty side, Regina Spektor possesses a vocal style rangy enough to encompass sweet nothings, animal noises, drum sounds and funny accents. But for all her occasional flights of fancy — or perhaps because her unpredictability makes her sincerity more disarming — Spektor is a skilled sentimentalist whose words summon universal feelings of love, hope, disappointment and desire.

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First Listen
9:33 pm
Sun May 20, 2012

First Listen: Sigur Rós, 'Valtari'

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu May 31, 2012 8:47 am

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First Listen
9:33 pm
Sun May 20, 2012

First Listen: The Walkmen, 'Heaven'

The Walkmen's new album, Heaven, comes out May 29.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu May 31, 2012 8:46 am

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First Listen
9:33 pm
Sun May 20, 2012

First Listen: Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros, 'Here'

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' new album, Here, comes out May 29.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu May 31, 2012 8:45 am

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Song Of The Day
2:01 pm
Thu May 17, 2012

Donna Summer: A Diva Who Understood The Everyday

Donna Summer.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu May 17, 2012 2:50 pm

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First Listen
9:33 pm
Sun May 13, 2012

First Listen: Kimbra, 'Vows'

Kimbra.
Thom Kerr

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 7:49 am

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For Kimbra, the road to U.S. stardom began with a verse. The young New Zealander lends the huge-voiced female counterpoint to Gotye's ubiquitous hit "Somebody That I Used to Know," which has essentially opened a wormhole to fame for both singers. Gotye and Kimbra have toured together as their song keeps topping charts worldwide, and that's only helped generate interest in the latter's full-length U.S. debut, Vows.

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Monkey See
11:48 am
Fri May 11, 2012

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Of 'Avengers' And The Other A-List

NPR
  • Listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour

Our intrepid host, Linda Holmes, is wrapping up her self-imposed isolation in the mountains of North Carolina, so the rest of the Pop Culture Happy Hour crew was forced to soldier on without her for one harrowing episode. And, given that we just did a No Boys Allowed episode two weeks ago, we figured we'd fill the room with dudes — you know, men's men.

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