Stephen Thompson Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music. He appears every week on All Songs Considered and Pop Culture Happy Hour.
Washington, DC - May 03, 2016: Stephen Thompson CREDIT: Matt Roth
Stories By

Stephen Thompson

Matt Roth/NPR
Washington, DC - May 03, 2016: Stephen Thompson CREDIT: Matt Roth
Matt Roth/NPR

Stephen Thompson

Writer/Editor, NPR Music

Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the weekly NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)

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 NPR programs such as Weekend Edition, 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 girlfriend, his daughter, their three cats and a room full of vintage arcade machines. (He also has a large adult son who has headed off to college but still calls once in a while.) Thompson's 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 (who returned the favor by making a 22-minute documentary about his life) and maintaining a fierce rivalry with all Midwestern states other than Wisconsin.

[+] read more[-] less

Story Archive

Best known for the 1997 hit "Flagpole Sitta," Harvey Danger had much more to offer, argues NPR's Stephen Thompson. Scott Gries/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Scott Gries/Getty Images

The Forgotten Wordplay And Songcraft Of Harvey Danger

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/800006092/800350370" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Billie Eilish swept the major categories at the 62nd Grammy Awards. Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for The Recording Academy hide caption

toggle caption
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Andy Shauf. His latest full-length, The Neon Skyline, is on our shortlist of the best albums out on Jan. 24. Colin Medley/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption
Colin Medley/Courtesy of the artist

Jan. 24 2020

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/799122792/799195126" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and Ken Miles (Christian Bale) in Ford V Ferrari. Merrick Morton/Twentieth Century Fox hide caption

toggle caption
Merrick Morton/Twentieth Century Fox

The late rapper Mac Miller. His posthumous release, Circles, is on our shortlist for the best new albums out on Jan. 17. Christian Weber/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption
Christian Weber/Courtesy of the artist

New Music Friday: Our Top 9 Albums Out On Jan. 17

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/797187697/797195630" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) shows off a diamond-encrusted Furby. A24 hide caption

toggle caption
A24

Billie Eilish And The Long Line Of James Bond Theme Songs

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/796767565/796767566" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Whitney Houston is the only woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year. Other 2020 inductees include Depeche Mode, The Doobie Brothers, Nine Inch Nails, Biggie Smalls and T. Rex. Scott Gries/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Scott Gries/Getty Images

Katherine Moennig reprises the role of Shane McCutcheon in The L Word: Generation Q. Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/Showtime hide caption

toggle caption
Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/Showtime

The artist known as Poppy. Her latest release, I Disagree, is on our shortlist for the best new albums out on Jan. 10. Jesse Draxler/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption
Jesse Draxler/Courtesy of the artist

Jan. 10 2020

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/794663771/795141979" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

George MacKay as Lance Corporal Schofield in the film 1917. Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures hide caption

toggle caption
Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures

Tom Hanks won the Cecil B. Demille Award at the 2020 Golden Globes. Kevin Winter/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Kevin Winter/Getty Images