Stephen Thompson

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.

It's tempting, when assessing great creative works, to funnel all credit to a lone genius — a writer, a singer, a director, an artist, or a name that sits atop a marquee. It's so much easier to be spared the task of teasing out greatness from an interconnected web of contributors, partners, helpers, teachers and organizers. We can accept a songwriting credit that reads "Lennon-McCartney," but our icons — our geniuses, our auteurs — more often stand alone, lest their stars seem diminished.

Adam Schlesinger, one of the most prolific and decorated songwriters of his generation, died Wednesday from complications caused by COVID-19. He was 52.

His death was confirmed to NPR by his lawyer, Josh Grier.

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Conor Oberst has kept busy since the last Bright Eyes rec

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Genre: Indie Pop

Why We're Excited: Born in Colombia and based in L.A., singer-songwriter Andrea Silva records beautiful, bittersweet songs under the name Loyal Lobos. In "Criminals," a tribute to platonic friendship that frequently recalls Phoebe Bridgers, Silva proves enormously adept at dreamy, languid balladry. Even when crisp, gorgeous guitars dominate the mix, it's hard not to hang on her every word.

Hometown: Glasgow, Scotland

Genre: Rock

Why We're Excited: With its gritty riffs and fiery rhetoric — one new single is called "People Don't Protest Enough" — Catholic Action ought to sound deadly serious, even strident. But there's a sense of play to the Scottish band's sound: "One of Us" may churn and grind, but it's also tossing fistfuls of glitter into the mix. Throughout the forthcoming Celebrated by Strangers, aggression and joy coexist comfortably.

Hometown: Perth, Australia

Genre: Folk Pop

Why We're Excited: An Australian singer-songwriter with a gift for deadpan observation and deftly deployed guitar licks, Carla Geneve sneaks up on you: Her songs can feel like overheard conversations, but also she's got a keen instinct for just when and how to crank up the dramatic tension. She's only just released her debut EP, and Geneve has already locked down a pitch-perfect mix of booming peaks and seething near-silences.

You can stream this playlist via Spotify or Apple Music.

In just three days — that'd be first thing Monday morning — NPR Music will publish a hotly anticipated Tiny Desk concert by English pop superstar Harry Styles. To tide you over until the big event, we thought we'd share a little pregame entertainment, in which the former One Direction singer hangs out behind the Tiny Desk and talks about his favorite American football team.

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Short of Lana Del Rey, it's hard to imagine a modern pop star better suited to James Bond themes than Billie Eilish

Last year, the Oscar for best original song was preordained: It was going to "Shallow," come hell or high water, in spite of the clear and obvious superiority of Kendrick Lamar's "All the Stars." That was an unusually strong year for movie songs — you could have put together a strong slate using only tracks that didn't get nominated — but the category didn't exactly hold the movie world in suspense.

Every year around this time, members of the All Songs Considered team — including Bob Boilen, Robin Hilton and me — each dredge through nearly 2,000 songs by bands playing the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas, in search of great new discoveries. And every year, we wind up missing something. In pursuit of music by thousands of acts, many slip past our radar altogether.

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Can your boy band do this?

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Billie Eilish, at just 18 years old, is already one of the world's biggest pop stars.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BAD GUY")

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has announced its 35th annual class of inductees, honoring six musical acts — Depeche Mode, The Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston, Nine Inch Nails, The Notorious B.I.G. and T-Rex — as well as veteran rock journalist, producer and artist manager Jon Landau.

The inducted musicians were chosen from a ballot of 16 finalists, which meant fans of Pat Benatar, Dave Matthews Band, Judas Priest, Kraftwerk, MC5, Motörhead, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Todd Rundgren, Soundgarden and Thin Lizzy will have to wait at least another year for Rock Hall validation.

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Every sign points to Ashley McBryde having a huge, huge year in 2020: The country singer experienced a major breakthr

Neil Innes, whose gift for wry and funny songwriting led to work with Monty Python, The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and The Rutles, died Sunday, December 29. His death was confirmed by his agent, Nigel Morton, who said in a statement that Innes died "quickly, without warning," of natural causes. He was 75.

In a statement, Innes' family wrote:

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In the fall of 1991, I was volunteering as a college-radio music director at the University of Wisconsin in Madison when I started telling everyone I knew about

It's no longer uncommon for pop songs to experience a slow rise to the top of the pop charts. Just this year, Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" followed a long and remix-strewn path to 19 weeks at No. 1, while Lizzo experienced huge hits with songs originally released in 2017 ("Truth Hurts") and 2016 ("Good As Hell").

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Before Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda was known for writing the music and lyrics for the Tony and Grammy a

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On Wednesday, Bon Iver was nominated for four Grammy Awards, snagging nods for record of the year (for "Hey, Ma"), as well as album of the year, best alternative music album and best r

This week's Saturday Night Live asked a lot of Harry Styles, as it brought the former One Direction star onboard to serve as both its host and its musical guest.

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We're barely done scraping the frost off the disintegrating jack o' lanterns we neglected to remove from our front porches, and it's already time to argue about "Baby, It's Cold Outsid

When it comes to bands performing at the Tiny Desk, there's dressing up, and then there's dressing up. Just in time for Halloween, we've pulled together a handy playlist starring artists whose stage wear crosses over from "outfits" to "costumes."

Back in the before-times, a pop star would release a single and it'd climb the charts, hit a peak position and begin a slow descent into oblivion. The whole process might take a few months, and then it'd be on to the next single.

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In 1984, Chaka Khan enjoyed a career-revitalizing smash with "I Feel

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Between Two Ferns, the Zach Galifianakis comedy series, is full of awkward celebrity encounters and interviews gone haywire.

We've hosted roughly 900 Tiny Desk concerts, so it's a challenge to pick just five to match any superlative you can name. But "Most Uplifting"?

Those of us who've dreamed of a Super Bowl halftime show with Lizzo since at least 2017 will just have to wait a while longer. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports Thursday that Super Bowl LIV's halftime show will feature Jennifer Lopez and Shakira — an appropriate pairing for a host city, Miami, known for its rich history with and connection to Latin music.

When Leonard Cohen died in November 2016, the enigmatic icon left behind a catalog of dark, thoughtful treasures — 14 studio albums' worth of bleakly soulful, eminently quotable poetry. With help from an assortment of past collaborators, including his singer-songwriter son Adam, Cohen is set to return with a new collection of missives from beyond the grave. Titled Thanks for the Dance, it's due out Nov. 22, with a teaser dropping today in the form of a short piece called "The Goal."

On this early Tuesday morning, we sit facing a yawning precipice: the longest possible stretch of time in which no one is called upon to watch MTV's Video Music Awards. Bask in the sweet, creamy silence of it all. We've earned it!

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