Brow Beat

Penn Badgley Loves D’Angelo

And Thirst Aid Kit’s Bim and Nichole love him for it.

Penn Badgley sitting in front of a mic in a studio.
Penn Badgley at SiriusXM’s studios in New York on Jan. 8. Cindy Ord/Getty Images

You may know him as the heartthrob of Gossip Girl and You. But what really sets Penn Badgley apart is his undying love for D’Angelo. On a recent episode of Thirst Aid Kit, Bim and Nichole give the actor some credit for his consistent taste in R&B. This transcript has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Nichole Perkins: He always surprises you with the things that he talks about. In this day and age, when we call somebody woke, it’s both an insult and also a compliment. So, whatever. He tries to be an informed person, I should say.

Bim Adewunmi: Right. I think let’s use that correct word.

Perkins: He tries to be informed and then to share that information with the rest of the world about various subjects. And one of the things that he talks about is his love of music.

Adewunmi: Yes.

Perkins: He has been talking about D’Angelo for a very long—he loves him some D’Angelo. He has been talking about him for a long time.

Adewunmi: Listen. A mighty long time. And it’s consistent because, again, sometimes, for many people outside of black culture, you think to yourself, Oh, this is a fad for you. You’re enjoying something because it’s suddenly popular, it’s in the mainstream, or it’s whatever. And so whenever white people like stuff that is black, I’m always kind of like, “Cute, I guess.”

Perkins: Right. You don’t get cookies for this.

Adewunmi: You don’t get cookies because what do I do with that? And to be fair, we not giving Penn any cookies here.

Perkins: Not at all.

Adewunmi: He just likes this artist. But what I do like is his consistency. He said, “Listen, until the day I die, all I’m going to do is talk about D’Angelo.” And he just never stops. And in fact, very recently, at the end of January, he retweeted something from NPR Music. It was a celebration. They were basically explaining that D’Angelo’s seminal album Voodoo was released on that day, Jan. 25, 20 years ago. So this is like, at this point, two decades long, of classic music from D’Angelo, and Penn retweeted it and he added his own little two cents. He said, “This has been my sole favorite record, leagues beyond the rest, since I was old enough to understand it—about 15 years ago.” And I just thought to myself, This boy.

Perkins: Yes. And he finishes it. He says, “I wait for the day it is eclipsed by anyone.” That’s powerful.

Adewunmi: That … you love something when you say that.

Perkins: Yes. Yes.

Adewunmi: It cannot be eclipsed? Are you sure? And Penn said, “I am sure.” And in fact, there’s also a performance. There’s a video of him.

Perkins: Yes. He performs “Brown Sugar.” It’s not even for him. He kind of interrupts someone else’s set and gets onstage to perform “Brown Sugar.” And we’ll play a little clip of that.

Adewunmi: We give cookies to no one. But–

Perkins: But—

Adewunmi: That wasn’t even planned!

Perkins: It was not! But I’m going to give you a little piece. Here’s a little crumb.

Adewunmi: The crumbliest crumb. The smallest speck of a crumb. Because it affected me, and I’m sorry. I’m sorry to be so basic. But I love that song.

Perkins: Yes. No. 1, you have to have a certain level of confidence to sing D’Angelo, to sing “Brown Sugar” by D’Angelo.

Adewunmi: He’s not your everyday vocalist.

Perkins: No.

Adewunmi: No one sounds like D’Angelo. There have been many attempts, and they have all fallen drastically short. And that’s not to say Penn sounds anything like D’Angelo, but it’s an accomplished musician making sounds that don’t sound terrible.

Perkins: Yes.

Adewunmi: On a classic record.

Perkins: Yes.

Adewunmi: From a classic voice. And you know what? You get 10 points, Gryffindor. Just for that.

To listen to the entire episode, click the player below or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.