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.

 

Pages

10:25am

Wed December 7, 2011
Tiny Desk Concerts

Mates Of State: Tiny Desk Concert

Originally published on Mon December 5, 2011 10:03 am

Mallory Benedict/NPR
  • Audio Only: Mates Of State's Tiny Desk Concert

Mates of State's music isn't the stuff of unplugged busking in subway stations, or of singing listeners to sleep. It's big, broad and bold — voices shouting in unison over arrangements that swell and billow. In short, it may be too expansive to fit behind Bob Boilen's desk, let alone find an appropriate showcase at noontime on a fall day with lots of natural light.

Read more

1:58pm

Mon November 21, 2011
Tiny Desk Concerts

Joe Henry: Tiny Desk Concert

Originally published on Mon November 21, 2011 1:38 pm

Michael Katzif NPR
  • Audio Only: Joe Henry's Tiny Desk Concert

For musicians performing behind Bob Boilen's desk at the NPR Music offices, there's often an inverse relationship between professional accomplishment and the amount of time required to set up. For new bands still finding their way, pre-show preparation can be a numbing chore of positioning effects pedals and rehearsing song after song before the cameras start rolling.

Read more

8:24am

Thu October 6, 2011
Tiny Desk Concerts

Fountains Of Wayne: Tiny Desk Concert

Originally published on Thu October 6, 2011 7:00 am

Amanda Steen NPR
  • Audio Only: Fountains Of Wayne's Tiny Desk Concert

Fountains of Wayne has always been slightly miscast as a chipper band of power-pop ironists, thanks in part to the omnipresence of the 2003 novelty hit "Stacy's Mom." But even that song is infused with a melancholy churn: Sure, "Stacy's Mom" makes light of adolescent desire and delusion, but songwriters Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger still find a way to relate to the raw, unrequited want that exists at the core of every undersexed teenager — and in the spirit of everyone who's

Read more

5:52pm

Mon September 19, 2011
Tiny Desk Concerts

Jeremy Messersmith: Tiny Desk Concert

Originally published on Mon September 19, 2011 11:57 am

Emily Bogle NPR
  • Audio Only: Jeremy Messersmith's Tiny Desk Concert

It's sort of astonishing that more people don't know about the sweetly effervescent pop of Jeremy Messersmith. Sure, the Twin Cities singer-songwriter's latest album, The Reluctant Graveyard, is a song cycle about death, and at his Tiny Desk Concert, he trots out a Star Wars-themed "Tatooine," which he says is "for the nerds." But, really, this guy is for everyone — his charming, timeless songs are just radiant, beautifully sung and beautifully played.

Read more

2:47pm

Fri September 16, 2011
Tiny Desk Concerts

Sean Rowe: Tiny Desk Concert

Originally published on Fri September 16, 2011 11:35 am

Michael Katzif NPR
  • Audio Only: Sean Rowe's Tiny Desk Concert

On paper, Sean Rowe's music should be the stuff of ineffectual self-parody: He is, after all, a bearded guy who sings acoustic folk-rock songs, complete with themes revolving around humanity's relationship to nature. But this is big, bold, muscular stuff — a closer relative of Man vs. Wild than the nearest coffeehouse. When Colin Meloy's beard is cornered in a dark alley, it summons the assistance of Sean Rowe's beard.

Read more

Pages