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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Tiny Desk Concerts
12:56 pm
Sat July 27, 2013

Cheyenne Mize: Tiny Desk Concert

Cheyenne Mize performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 16, 2013.
Marie McGrory NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:21 pm

In the years since she first surfaced as a suitably rustic duet partner for Will Oldham — the two Kentuckians released an EP together back in 2010 — Cheyenne Mize has broadened and deepened her sound, injecting it with slinkiness and sparkle. Her new album Among the Grey continues that evolution, bringing out the lushness in songs that can shimmer prettily or punch with the force of a PJ Harvey.

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Monkey See
3:09 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'The New Black' And Secret Names

NPR

Originally published on Fri July 19, 2013 8:28 am

  • Listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour

With host Linda Holmes taking the week off to focus on suffering and nose-blowing, we needed only to ask our beloved producer Jess Gitner into the room with us to complete a full Pop Culture Happy Hour lineup. (In historic Studio 44, Jess is usually sealed in an adjacent room, where she watches us through glass the way one might observe a cage of unruly chimps at the zoo.)

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All Songs Considered
10:40 am
Fri July 19, 2013

The Good Listener: Does Ignoring A Friend's Mix Make You A Bad Person?

Not every mix gets the loving attention we feel it deserves.
Chloe Coleman NPR

Originally published on Mon July 22, 2013 6:25 am

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the aluminum-siding pamphlets disguised as jury summons is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, a blistering rebuttal of last week's column.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
6:55 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Frank Turner: Tiny Desk Concert

Frank Turner performs at a Tiny Desk Concert in June.
Hayley Bartels NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:22 pm

Frank Turner writes folk songs that harness the fury of punk and the majesty of Springsteenian rock 'n' roll. But more than anything else, his music is playful: There's conversational wit and bite to Turner's music, even as he's bellowing to the back rows. His songs lose little when you strip away electric instruments and leave the entertainment value to a single skinny, tattooed guy with an acoustic guitar.

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All Songs Considered
2:50 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

The Good Listener: When You Make Someone A Mix, What Do They Owe You?

Chloe Coleman NPR

Originally published on Mon July 15, 2013 9:22 am

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the shampoo samples we accidentally tossed into the fireplace is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, the etiquette surrounding the giving and receiving of mix CDs.

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All Songs Considered
9:37 am
Fri July 5, 2013

The Good Listener: Does A Confession Of Love Require A Soundtrack?

Say what you will about Jon Cusack in Say Anything..., but the man knew how to incorporate music into his romantic gesture.
Twentieth Century Fox

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 11:18 am

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the package of Omaha Steaks that sat on our front porch for the duration of a three-week vacation is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, how to incorporate music into romantic gestures.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
5:24 pm
Tue July 2, 2013

Laura Mvula: Tiny Desk Concert

Laura Mvula performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 15, 2013.
Marie McGrory NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:24 pm

Listen to Laura Mvula's terrific full-length debut, Sing to the Moon, and you'll hear soulful pop music in Technicolor. The U.K. singer's sonic ambition is boundless: Her intricately layered songs straddle genres, locations and eras in ways that sound entirely original.

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All Songs Considered
7:40 am
Mon July 1, 2013

The Good Listener: When Is It OK To Hold Seats At A Festival?

These Newport Folk Festival fans knew well enough to position themselves a ways back from the stage.
Mito Habe-Evans NPR

Originally published on Thu June 27, 2013 12:53 pm

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the flyers from reputable debt-consolidation companies is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, a vexing piece of concert-going etiquette.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
3:01 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Patty Griffin: Tiny Desk Concert

Denise DeBelius NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:25 pm

Patty Griffin has always had a gift for locating a song's nerve endings; for surveying her subject matter and identifying the most efficient possible pathways to listeners' emotions. Her warm, wise voice is comforting, inviting and relatable, even — perhaps especially — as she tackles weighty subjects like middle age and the death of a parent.

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All Songs Considered
9:12 pm
Sat June 22, 2013

The Good Listener: How Do You Pick The Songs For Your Wedding?

Don't let a slow, introspective song crash your wedding reception.
Courtesy of New Line Cinema

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 11:11 am

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