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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Tiny Desk Concerts
9:39 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
8:03 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
11:31 am
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 12:30 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
10:26 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 5:28 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
6:03 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 9:49 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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