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 All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the weekly NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the 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, four cats 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.

Pages

First Listen
6:08 pm
Sat August 11, 2012

First Listen: 'Just Tell Me That You Want Me: A Tribute To Fleetwood Mac'

Fleetwood Mac's 1976, Rumours-era lineup featured John McVie, Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.
CBS Photo Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 15, 2012 3:51 pm

Audio for this feature is no longer available.

Read more
All Songs Considered Blog
4:10 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

First Watch: Lord Huron, 'Time To Run'

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu August 9, 2012 1:41 pm

For the L.A. band Lord Huron, there's far more to music than merely playing sweetly summery, rhythmically inventive pop. There's also an air of mystery: a desire to tell stories, play with identities and craft visuals to complement its sounds. The bouncy "Time to Run" is a tremendously ingratiating song, but the band's video piles on new dimensions to make it that much richer.

Read more
All Songs Considered Blog
10:41 am
Wed August 8, 2012

Watch Tom Waits' Bracing, Beautiful 'Hell Broke Luce' Video

Tom Waits.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue August 7, 2012 12:59 pm

Read more
Live in Concert
11:02 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

Sigur Rós In Concert

Sigur Ros performs at Celebrate Brooklyn's Prospect Park Bandshell on July 31, 2012.
Ryan Muir for NPR

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 4:23 pm

Sigur Rós could be forgiven for sounding better on record than in concert. The Icelandic band's songs either billow out deliberately or stomp majestically, and in every case entail the building of layers upon intricate sonic layers. Plus, singer Jónsi — he of the otherworldly voice, singing mostly in a ghostly language of his own devising — is no Mick Jagger when it comes to calling attention to himself.

Read more
Newport Folk Festival
4:08 pm
Mon July 30, 2012

Spirit Family Reunion, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2012

Erik Jacobs for NPR

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 2:39 pm

The last band to open for Levon Helm before his death earlier this year, Brooklyn's Spirit Family Reunion crafts a sweetly ramshackle Americana sound that's part secular gospel revival, part folk ramble.

Read more
Newport Folk Festival
3:49 pm
Mon July 30, 2012

Blind Pilot, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2012

Blind Pilot performs at the 2012 Newport Folk Festival.
Douglas Mason

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 4:13 pm

Since expanding from a duo into a sextet, Blind Pilot has given its warmly catchy, charmingly delicate folk-pop a bit of a propulsive kick: For all the band's sweet, easy-going grace, it's a special pleasure to hear it apply a percussive jolt to songs like "We Are the Tide." Released last year, the album of the same name is consistently engaging, but Israel Nebeker's songs about nature and desire sound best when Blind Pilot puts some muscle behind them.

Read more
All Songs Considered Blog
5:39 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

Song Premiere: Meshell Ndegeocello With Valerie June, 'Be My Husband'

Meshell Ndegeocello.
Charlie Gross

Originally published on Tue August 13, 2013 10:35 am

The word "uneven" gets tossed around in critical parlance to signify artists whose fingers stray from the quality-control button — to suggest that they don't know their own genius when they hear it.

Read more
Tiny Desk Concerts
5:32 pm
Thu July 12, 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.

Read more
The Salt
6:49 am
Sat February 4, 2012

This One's For The Chicken: A Super Bowl Party With A Purpose

Many will compete, but only one will be crowned Chicken Bowl champion this Sunday.
Photo illustration by NPR Staff

Originally published on Sat February 4, 2012 10:00 am

This Sunday will mark the 16th annual installment of "Chicken Bowl," my Super Bowl party, which doubles as a grand fried-chicken-eating contest. As many as 80 friends, coworkers, enablers and hangers-on will cram into my long-suffering house for this noble occasion.

But even with all the extravagances I've cobbled together to keep them happy — large TVs, vintage arcade machines, working toilets — there has never been a shred of doubt that chicken is king.

Read more
World Cafe
2:30 am
Wed December 28, 2011

Bon Iver On World Cafe

Justin Vernon of Bon Iver.
D.L. Anderson

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 2:28 pm

This session, from Sept. 2, 2011, is part of our Vintage Cafe series, in which we revisit some of our best studio performances.

Read more

Pages