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.

Pages

Tiny Desk Concerts
10:52 am
Mon July 16, 2012

The Milk Carton Kids: Tiny Desk Concert

Emily Bogle NPR

Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 12:43 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

Read more
Tiny Desk Concerts
12:11 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

Laura Marling: Tiny Desk Concert

Nick Michael NPR

Originally published on Thu July 12, 2012 12:43 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.

Read more
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.

Read more
Tiny Desk Concerts
8:03 am
Mon June 4, 2012

Kelly Hogan: Tiny Desk Concert

Michael Katzif NPR

The reliable backup singer who seizes the spotlight is the stuff of entertainment-industry fairy tales, but Kelly Hogan hasn't actually had to labor in obscurity.

Read more
Tiny Desk Concerts
10:31 am
Mon April 16, 2012

Soweto Gospel Choir: Tiny Desk Concert

The Soweto Gospel Choir performs a Tiny Desk Concert on February 14, 2011.
Kainaz Amaria NPR

Originally published on Tue May 15, 2012 9:33 am

Today in "They Pay Us To Do This": a performance by South Africa's Soweto Gospel Choir, which managed to tie the all-time record for most musicians squashed behind Bob Boilen's desk for a single performance in the NPR Music offices.

Read more
Tiny Desk Concerts
7:21 pm
Fri April 6, 2012

Kathleen Edwards: Tiny Desk Concert

Doriane Raiman NPR

Originally published on Thu April 5, 2012 10:07 am

Kathleen Edwards isn't a flashy singer-songwriter, but her music sticks: Easygoing and accessible, her songs burrow in deep and then stay put. Edwards' new album, Voyageur, wears a lot of sonic flourishes well — it was co-produced by Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, who lends it a lot of his distinct shadings — but at its heart lies a sort of unshakable sturdiness.

Read more
The Salt
5:49 am
Sat February 4, 2012

This One's For The Chicken: A Super Bowl Party With A Purpose

Many will compete, but only one will be crowned Chicken Bowl champion this Sunday.
Photo illustration by NPR Staff

Originally published on Sat February 4, 2012 9:00 am

This Sunday will mark the 16th annual installment of "Chicken Bowl," my Super Bowl party, which doubles as a grand fried-chicken-eating contest. As many as 80 friends, coworkers, enablers and hangers-on will cram into my long-suffering house for this noble occasion.

But even with all the extravagances I've cobbled together to keep them happy — large TVs, vintage arcade machines, working toilets — there has never been a shred of doubt that chicken is king.

Read more

Pages