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.

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First Listen
5:13 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

First Listen: The Gaslight Anthem, 'Handwritten'

The Gaslight Anthem's new album, Handwritten, comes out July 24.
Danny Clinch

Originally published on Wed July 25, 2012 5:23 pm

Audio for this feature is no longer available.

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All Songs Considered Blog
12:21 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

The xx Teases New Album 'Coexist' With The Simplest Of Love Songs

The xx will release Coexist on Sept. 11.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 1:20 pm

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Tiny Desk Concerts
11:52 am
Mon July 16, 2012

The Milk Carton Kids: Tiny Desk Concert

Emily Bogle NPR

Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 1:43 pm

The history of folk and pop music is littered with gorgeous intertwined voices: Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, The Jayhawks' Mark Olson and

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Tiny Desk Concerts
1:11 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

Laura Marling: Tiny Desk Concert

Nick Michael NPR

Originally published on Thu July 12, 2012 1:43 pm

When Tom Jones performed at the NPR Music offices in 2009, it felt like an exercise in cruelty: His Tiny Desk Concert took a larger-than-life icon, a superstar for whom intimacy is implied but impossible on a huge stage, and shrunk him to where every bead of sweat could be seen. Young English folksinger Laura Marling, on the other hand, lives for that sort of intimacy.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
10:39 am
Mon July 9, 2012

Brandi Carlile: Tiny Desk Concert

Blake Lipthratt NPR

It's possible to place countless movies and TV shows within a very specific time frame based on whether they feature certain songs: Baja Men's "Who Let the Dogs Out," Smash Mouth's "All Star" and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' "Home" all provide a form of pop-cultural carbon dating, as well as signifiers of a tone that's both specific and universal.

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All Songs Considered Blog
9:03 am
Tue July 3, 2012

Song Premiere: Om, 'Gethsemane'

Om.
Courtesy of the artist

It's always an adventure to ask NPR Music's resident metalhead and "outer sound" maven, Lars Gotrich, for song recommendations. Sometimes, doing so can lead down a path of impossible listening — banshee wails over blast beats, recorded inside what appears to be a toilet tank — but it can also lead to awesome epiphanies like Darkest Era or Deafheaven.

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All Songs Considered Blog
12:31 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Wye Oak Heads Down A Sinister Side Road In 'Spiral'

Wye Oak.
Natashe Tylea

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 1:30 pm

Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack combine to form a huge-sounding, full-blooded rock band, with the former blustering epically on guitar and the latter multitasking on drums and keyboards. Moody and portentous, the Baltimore duo's songs billow menacingly when they're not booming majestically, aided and shrouded by Wasner's enigmatic mumble.

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All Songs Considered Blog
11:26 am
Wed June 27, 2012

Song Premiere: Arca's 'Manners' Finds Warmth Between Extremes

An image from Arca's "Manners."
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed July 4, 2012 6:28 pm

Getting friends into new music, especially from unfamiliar or otherwise forbidding genres, can be a feat of arm-twisting — of variations on ways to yell, "Listen to this, dummy!" Sami Yenigun, who works on the NPR Arts Desk and pops up frequently on All Songs Considered, is constantly agitating on behalf of electronic and dance music, so he jumps all over questions like, "What song do you love right now?"

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All Songs Considered Blog
7:03 am
Tue June 26, 2012

Song Premiere: Best Coast Performs Fleetwood Mac's 'Rhiannon'

Best Coast.
David Black

Originally published on Wed June 27, 2012 10:49 am

There are as many ways to interpret someone else's song as there are to write one yourself, but covers needn't play out as complex deconstructions or intellectual exercises. Covers can be simple celebrations — a way of saying, "Damn, I wish this were my song."

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All Songs Considered Blog
4:04 pm
Mon June 25, 2012

Before A Flood Of Song Premieres, Hear The Antlers' 'Drift Dive'

The Antlers will release the Undersea EP on July 24.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed June 27, 2012 10:49 am

The Antlers' 2009 album Hospice was the kind of feat no one would want to duplicate: It was audaciously beautiful and beloved by critics, but its wrenching songs reflect and expound upon highly specific personal losses for singer-guitarist Peter Silberman.

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