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.

Pages

All Songs Considered
9:28 am
Fri July 5, 2013

The Good Listener: Does A Confession Of Love Require A Soundtrack?

Say what you will about Jon Cusack in Say Anything..., but the man knew how to incorporate music into his romantic gesture.
Twentieth Century Fox

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 11:18 am

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the package of Omaha Steaks that sat on our front porch for the duration of a three-week vacation is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, how to incorporate music into romantic gestures.

Read more
Tiny Desk Concerts
1:03 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

Laura Mvula: Tiny Desk Concert

Laura Mvula performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 15, 2013.
Marie McGrory NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:24 pm

Listen to Laura Mvula's terrific full-length debut, Sing to the Moon, and you'll hear soulful pop music in Technicolor. The U.K. singer's sonic ambition is boundless: Her intricately layered songs straddle genres, locations and eras in ways that sound entirely original.

Read more
All Songs Considered
12:53 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

The Good Listener: When Is It OK To Hold Seats At A Festival?

These Newport Folk Festival fans knew well enough to position themselves a ways back from the stage.
Mito Habe-Evans NPR

Originally published on Thu July 24, 2014 7:41 am

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the flyers from reputable debt-consolidation companies is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, a vexing piece of concert-going etiquette.

Read more
Tiny Desk Concerts
3:42 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

Patty Griffin: Tiny Desk Concert

Denise DeBelius NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:25 pm

Patty Griffin has always had a gift for locating a song's nerve endings; for surveying her subject matter and identifying the most efficient possible pathways to listeners' emotions. Her warm, wise voice is comforting, inviting and relatable, even — perhaps especially — as she tackles weighty subjects like middle age and the death of a parent.

Read more
First Listen
6:59 am
Mon June 24, 2013

First Listen: Cheyenne Mize, 'Among The Grey'

Cheyenne Mize's new album, Among the Grey, comes out June 25.
Meagan Jordan Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu July 4, 2013 6:54 am

Audio for this feature is no longer available.

Read more
All Songs Considered
10:03 am
Thu June 20, 2013

The Good Listener: How Do You Pick The Songs For Your Wedding?

Don't let a slow, introspective song crash your wedding reception.
Courtesy of New Line Cinema

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 11:11 am

Read more
All Songs Considered
12:30 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

The Good Listener: For Music-Festival Rookies, A Survival Guide

If you're going to Bonnaroo this weekend, as these folks did back in 2010, you could use a few tips.
NPR

Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 4:26 pm

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the American Girl catalogs we never ordered is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, how first-time music-festival attendees can survive and thrive in an overwhelming setting.

Kendall Levinson writes: "Any advice for a young person going to his or her first music festival this summer? Any tips for preparation or survival would be appreciated."

Read more
Tiny Desk Concerts
1:28 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

The National: Tiny Desk Concert

Hayley Bartels for NPR

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 9:43 am

The first thing you might notice about this video is the change in surroundings: NPR recently moved to a new building, and though we worked to make the Tiny Desk as visually similar as possible to the old space — a process we recently documented with the help of OK Go — the ceilings are higher, the square footage more generous and the surfaces lavishly unsullied.

Read more
All Songs Considered
1:03 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

The Good Listener: How Do You Describe The Music You Love?

So you like Dawes. How do you explain the band's appeal to your friends?
Noah Abrams Courtesy of the artist

Read more
All Songs Considered
11:54 am
Thu May 30, 2013

The Good Listener: What's More Important, Lyrics Or Music?

Which is more important: The word "Hallelujah" or music that says "Hallelujah" on its own?
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu June 6, 2013 1:05 pm

Read more

Pages