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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Newport Folk Festival
6:15 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

The Tallest Man On Earth, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2012

Tallest Man On Earth performs at the 2012 Newport Folk Festival.
Erik Jacobs for NPR

Originally published on Tue June 18, 2013 1:52 pm

Kristian Matsson, the smallish Swede who performs under the moniker The Tallest Man on Earth, sings, plays guitar and occasionally takes a turn at the piano. That's all there is to his act: no backing band, no frills. Heck, he barely needs amplification, given the volume at which he performs. But that right there — the gigantic force of his delivery, the percussive hyper-dexterity of his playing — is part of what makes him so magnetic on stage. On paper, he's just another poet strumming a guitar.

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First Listen
9:33 am
Sun August 12, 2012

First Listen: Yeasayer, 'Fragrant World'

Yeasayer's new album, Fragrant World, comes out August 21.
Anna Palma

Originally published on Thu August 23, 2012 1:13 pm

Audio for this feature is no longer available.

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All Songs Considered Blog
12:41 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

First Watch: Lord Huron, 'Time To Run'

Courtesy of the artist

For the L.A. band Lord Huron, there's far more to music than merely playing sweetly summery, rhythmically inventive pop. There's also an air of mystery: a desire to tell stories, play with identities and craft visuals to complement its sounds. The bouncy "Time to Run" is a tremendously ingratiating song, but the band's video piles on new dimensions to make it that much richer.

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All Songs Considered Blog
8:03 am
Thu August 9, 2012

Song Premiere: Azure Ray, 'Red Balloon'

Azure Ray's new EP, As Above So Below, comes out Sept. 4.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu August 9, 2012 4:36 pm

Azure Ray documents the collision between two distinct musical sensibilities: the sweetly airy, bittersweet pop of Maria Taylor and the buzzier, busier, frequently electronic sounds of Orenda Fink. The two have worked separately quite a bit in recent years — Taylor as a solo artist and Fink both solo and as half of O+S — but in Azure Ray, they still meet in the creamy, dreamy midpoint between their individual sounds.

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