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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Tiny Desk Concerts
9:58 am
Thu May 31, 2012

Patrick Watson: Tiny Desk Concert

Michael Katzif NPR

Originally published on Thu May 31, 2012 12:31 pm

Patrick Watson has a lovely, flexible voice and a gift for wringing evocative sounds out of everything from vintage keyboards to bicycle chains, but his real gift lies in his ability to maximize beauty at all times; to guide every noise in such a way that it coheres into something dramatic and graceful. When the Polaris Prize winner performs, he seems almost hypnotized by the sounds around him, yet every second and every unlikely component seems plotted to maximize its impact.

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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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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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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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Live in Concert
2:25 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 Wed July 2, 2014 3:07 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.

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