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.

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Newport Folk Festival
8:48 am
Sat July 27, 2013

JD McPherson, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2013

Adam Kissick for NPR

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 1:35 pm

JD McPherson provides a refreshing reminder that retro roots music isn't timid: His debut album, Signs & Signifiers, synthesizes blues and rockabilly and old-school rock 'n' roll with an unmistakable punk spirit. Throughout the record, he finds the delicate balance between a classic, traditionalist sound and the understanding that the styles he's emulating are rooted in rebellion, menace and even danger.

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Newport Folk Festival
8:44 am
Sat July 27, 2013

Kingsley Flood, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2013

Adam Kissick for NPR

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 1:34 pm

The Boston band Kingsley Flood has spent the last few years polishing, refining and expanding its folk-rock sound, in the process incorporating horns, more strings and ever-brighter production. The sextet sounds more confident than ever on its new album, Battles, which continues to explore some of Kingsley Flood's favorite subject matter: the balance of hopes and dreams, expectations and the everyday.

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All Songs Considered
1:47 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

The Good Listener: Does Ignoring A Friend's Mix Make You A Bad Person?

Not every mix gets the loving attention we feel it deserves.
Chloe Coleman NPR

Originally published on Mon July 22, 2013 5:25 am

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the aluminum-siding pamphlets disguised as jury summons is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, a blistering rebuttal of last week's column.

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All Songs Considered
12:43 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

The Good Listener: When You Make Someone A Mix, What Do They Owe You?

Chloe Coleman NPR

Originally published on Mon July 15, 2013 8:22 am

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the shampoo samples we accidentally tossed into the fireplace is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, the etiquette surrounding the giving and receiving of mix CDs.

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All Songs Considered
8:28 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 10:18 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.

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All Songs Considered
11:30 am
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 3:26 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."

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Tiny Desk Concerts
12:28 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

The National: Tiny Desk Concert

Hayley Bartels for NPR

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 8:43 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.

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All Songs Considered
10:54 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 12:05 pm

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All Songs Considered
10:28 am
Thu May 23, 2013

We Get Mail: What's A Modern Music Snob To Do?

Even music snobs can find some common ground.
Diesel Sweeties

Originally published on Tue May 28, 2013 10:32 am

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the booklets of money-saving coupons we use to light kindling in the fireplace is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, tips for obsessive music fans in an age of instant online gratification.

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Live in Concert
10:20 am
Tue May 21, 2013

First Listen Live: Queens Of The Stone Age, '...Like Clockwork'

Queens Of The Stone Age live at The Wiltern on May 23.
James Bailey for NPR

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 8:17 am

Queens of the Stone Age's first album in six years follows an unusually chaotic stretch for the band: Lineup and label changes, frontman Josh Homme's lengthy stint in the hit supergroup Them Crooked Vultures, and what Homme calls "a manic year" all inform the brooding, stormy sound of ...Like Clockwork.

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