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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Field Recordings
9:45 am
Thu November 1, 2012

Allen Stone: A Rollicking Moment, Performed On The Wind

Allen Stone, right, accompanied by Trevor Larkin perform for a Field Recordings video backstage at Sasquatch! Music Fest
Mito Habe-Evans NPR

Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 2:37 pm

"I feel like Zeus," Allen Stone announces with a laugh as gusts of wind whip his long hair in dramatic fashion. With a mountainous vista behind him, he's found himself in the kind of majestic rock 'n' roll moment that requires a callout to Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone" — is there ever a bad time to invoke The Log? — seeing as how it takes place during the 2012 Sasquatch! Music Festival in rural Washington state.

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All Songs Considered
7:03 am
Wed October 31, 2012

Song Premiere: Haley Bonar, 'Bad Reputation'

Haley Bonar.
Courtesy of the artist

Haley Bonar has been crafting gorgeous, stately pop and wounded ballads for more than a decade now, and her fans still often find themselves explaining, "It's pronounced Bonner." At this point, Bonar deserves to have people pronounce her name correctly and then some, because she's a remarkable performer, with a terrific ear for detail and a gift for masking melancholy observations with hooks that stick.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
1:03 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

Passion Pit: Tiny Desk Concert

Passion Pit performs on Tiny Desk on Oct. 15.
Ryan Smith Ryan Smith/NPR

Originally published on Fri November 2, 2012 11:21 am

Passion Pit's Michael Angelakos is a fussy sonic craftsman: A keyboardist and singer who started out working solo on his laptop, he now makes fizzily catchy electro-pop that orbits around monster hooks. He's not, in other words, the first musician you'd associate with a stripped-down performance behind NPR Music's Tiny Desk, where Technicolor production tends to give way to unfiltered voices and bare instrumental essentials.

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All Songs Considered
10:46 am
Fri October 26, 2012

Song Premiere: Neighbors, 'New Century'

Neighbors.
Courtesy of the artist

There's something strangely hypnotic and charming about "New Century," an immensely infectious bummer from Neighbors, which consists of a guy named Noah Stitelman and anyone else who happens to be around to help. For all of Stitelman's fretful miserablism — "I wanna lie down and hide in the dark 'til I don't have to figure it out," he sings early on — Neighbors' music is steeped in smoothly pleasing brightness. If anyone out there remembers the D.C.

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All Songs Considered
4:00 pm
Wed October 24, 2012

Song Premiere: Laura Gibson, 'The Carob Trees'

Courtesy of the artist

It's been fascinating to watch the creative development of Laura Gibson, the singer-songwriter who, among other things, inspired NPR Music's Tiny Desk Concerts series.

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