Evita: Music From The Motion Picture
Warner Bros., 1996
REVIEW BY: JB
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/17/2006
Despite all the hoopla that surrounded her arduous vocal training for the role of Eva Peron, Madonna was never really that bad a vocalist. Pop critics tend to think "range" is how many octaves the singer can yell out in tune, not range of emotions. While Madonna may not send you into multiple aural orgasms, she's given some pretty convincing vocal performances ranging from "Crazy For You" to the Bedtime Stories album, all before hitting those obligatory high notes in "A New Argentina."
No, Madonna is not the problem.
The problem here is the feel of the production, which feels rushed and subdued (rather like the movie). The beginning melange is breakneck, "Oh What A Circus" managing only to convey, in its rapid-fire backstory delivery, that Antonio Banderas is angry. It would've been much better to do the Star Wars "In a galaxy far, far away" thing. The same problem plagues every song that either attempts to explain some kind of political history or rush the plot along, such as "Peron's Latest Flame," "Rainbow High," "And The Money Kept Rolling In," and "Waltz For Eva And Che." These songs are no more than information dumps, and what's scary is that this is the condensed version of the soundtrack; I distinctly remember way more stuff being thrown at me by the movie.
Antonio Banderas is very good at rage, but not as good at anything else (lack of "range," shall we say); his Che Guevara sounds repetitious after the cathartic rant in "Oh What a Circus." Jonathan Pryce isn't much better, hitting his notes but not much else.
Madonna carries the album. She's nothing without ambition, and presents two different aspects of it (this is a film about Eva Peron, after all) with the naive energy of "Buenos Aires" and the gritty determination of "A New Argentina." She sounds sweet in songs like the inviting "I'd Be Surprisingly Good for You" and the vulnerable "Another Suitcase In Another Hall," but of course it's in "You Must Love Me" where she breaks hearts, both vocally and on screen. It's too bad the Oscar for Best Song goes only to the songwriters, or else Madonna would've won this award... twice. ("Sooner or Later," 1990.)
A curious failure is "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," anticlimactic in both movie and song; she knew this, and had it remixed into a campy dance success. Its thematic reprise in "Eva's Final Broadcast" is much more effective.