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.




Sun September 4, 2011
Tiny Desk Concerts

King Creosote And Jon Hopkins: Tiny Desk Concert

Emily Bogle NPR
  • Audio Only: King Creosote and John Hopkins' Tiny Desk Concert

At the risk of serving up a spoiler three months in advance, King Creosote and Jon Hopkins' Diamond Mine is going to turn up near the top of many Best Albums of 2011 lists on this website. The breathless love isn't unanimous across the NPR Music staff, but it's widespread and intense, and rightfully so.

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Fri September 2, 2011
World Cafe

Bon Iver On World Cafe

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 12:28 pm

Justin Vernon of Bon Iver.
D.L. Anderson

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

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Thu August 18, 2011
Song Of The Day

Fountains Of Wayne: A Song For Luckless Suckers

Originally published on Thu August 18, 2011 9:33 am

Fountains of Wayne's "Richie and Ruben" seems to be mocking a pair of fast-talking losers, but there's more to the story.
Violeta Alvarez

Fountains of Wayne's airtight power-pop formulas have been picked apart to tremendous effect — if you haven't already heard it, track down Robbie Fulks' brilliant "Fountains of Wayne Hotline" — but the band's most instantly recognizable characteristic is its gift for summing up the lives of luckless strivers, defeated dreamers, and the otherwise unfulfilled.

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Thu August 11, 2011
Tiny Desk Concerts

Noah And The Whale: Tiny Desk Concert

Originally published on Wed August 10, 2011 2:00 am

Amanda Steen NPR
  • Audio Only: Noah And The Whale's Tiny Desk Concert

The NPR Music offices have hosted a remarkable array of instruments in the years since we launched the Tiny Desk Concerts series: harps, koras, a pipa, a pipe organ and many more surprises, to go with the expected scores of guitars, violins and muted snare drums.

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Tue August 9, 2011
Music Interviews

Noah And The Whale: A Folk-Pop Band, Forever In Flux

Success hasn't come easily for Noah and the Whale, whose sound has changed constantly from album to album.
Courtesy of the artist

Noah and the Whale has inspired a devoted following ever since its first album landed in the British Top 10 in 2008. But success hasn't come easily for the group: Key members have left, prompting striking changes in Noah and the Whale's sound. In a span of just three years, it's released three very different albums.

"You need to be sort of brave, I guess, when you make a record," says Charlie Fink, the band's singer, guitarist and co-founder.

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