You likely recognize her from her Oscar-nominated turn as the title character in 2009’s Precious, but Gabourey Sidibe also stars in Showtime’s cancer comedy The Big C, currently in its third season.
On C, Sidibe plays Andrea Jackson, a mouthy student who takes a class from — and becomes close with — the show’s lead character, Cathy (Laura Linney). The actress acts, of course, but one of her other serious passions is music. “I think it’s because my mom’s a singer,” Sidibe recently told EW. “I’ve always had this relationship with music where it’s everything. It’s not just a hobby. It’s not just a thing in my life. It’s everything, whether it’s a profession or not. It’s not my profession, but I grow wary of talking about acting.”
With that in mind, EW checked in with Sidibe about what she’s rocking out to on her iPod, and she happily chatted about her picks, offering up her favorite jams from Jessie J, Flo Rida, Tyler the Creator, Childish Gambino, and more.
JESSIE J, “ABRACADABRA” “This is about how you’re not looking for love but just — abracadabra! — it happens. It’s not really the love part of the song that gets me, it’s the abracadabra-ness because I’m a freak and I’m actually really into magic in a weird way. I’ve always been fascinated by things popping out of nowhere. That’s what this song reminds me of.”
BRUNO MARS, “LIQUOR STORE BLUES” “It’s really sexy. The melody is really, really sexy and the music is really sexy, too. There’s something about the story. I’m such a weirdo. I hear music without lyrics, and I see an entire soap opera. I assume this song is about a street dancer who’s broke as hell, singing a song outside a liquor store. He just wants enough money to buy some liquor and a lotto ticket. He says, ‘Trying to scratch my way up to the top.’ He’s trying to win the lotto, but it’s all chances and what not. It’s really just the chance of being a street performer. You make tips. Chances are you’ll never be heard, but it’s almost like the lotto where maybe you will be heard. Maybe you will be recognized, and maybe you will make it. I kind of dig that aspect of it — everything in life is a lotto scratch, in a way. You can insure a scratch by going to college or whatever. Everything’s a lotto scratch. We’re all just taking our chances.”
TEAIRRA MARÍ, “SPONSOR” “It’s about a boyfriend who buys her stuff, and he’s her sponsor. I like that I’m my own sponsor. I don’t spend money a lot — I’m a creepy, creepy miser. But every now and then when I feel down, I’ll buy myself a little tiny thing from Tiffany’s. I basically stuff my money into a mattress. I feel like a grown up, and I feel like I’m taking care of myself, and that I’m treating myself.”
CHILDISH GAMBINO, “OUTSIDE” “It’s about how he had a dream, and everyone else is afraid to move outside of the box of their neighborhood or their family. I was on the outside of Brooklyn, where I’m from, that same way. I saw more of the world than everyone else did. It’s a really, really dope song. It’s from his album Camp, and I’m really in love with the entire album. This one I connect to the most because I’ve always felt very different than every neighborhood I’ve lived in. I’m originally from Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, and none of my other friends had ever left Brooklyn. Brooklynites stay in Brooklyn.”
CHILDISH GAMBINO, “DO YA LIKE” “He takes a sample from an Adele song, ‘Set Fire to the Rain.’ It’s just a dope song. I can’t think of why I love it so much, but it’s just too fly for words and thoughts. I honestly wake up in the morning with this song on my brain. The hook is so infective. It’s a weird thing. I can’t ever have idle brain time. I’m either singing in my mind or counting. The lyrics or this hook flows through me like my blood through my veins.”
TYLER, THE CREATOR, “ANALOG” “Most of his songs are about either jacking off to his dad’s picture, which is gross, or murdering someone. All of his songs are so violent. But this song is really sweet where he wants to take a girl on a date on a picnic by the lake and just eat cookies and juice and sandwiches. I like that it’s different for him. There are a million sweet songs in the world. I like it because it’s sweet, and it’s also him. It’s just a different view of him on his album. Seriously, most of the album is about him being psychotic. He is a little out there, but that’s no disrespect to him or the rest of Odd Future because they could murder me. I think a lot of it is just for shock value. In the song “Analog,” it shows that he is actually talented.
FLO RIDA, “GOT A GOOD FEELING” “When he recorded the song, he originally got my mom [singer Alice Tan Ridley] to sing the hook. Most people don’t know this. There were issues with the rights to Etta James’ vocals, so my mom recorded. Then, right after she recorded it, Etta James died and the rights were up. So they got the rights. I do hear her version sometimes, and I get really excited every time I do hear her. It is a really fun party song. I always really like Flo Rida songs, though, even though… I don’t know why. It’s in the same vein as Black Eyed Peas or LMFAO where you’re not really supposed to like them but you do. Like ‘Low’ and ‘Club Can’t Even Handle Me,’ are you serious? That’s my jam.”
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky