April 18, 2011

The Evita stuff made me tingle.*

*Come on, I can't be the only living human being who's seen Connie and Carla.

The musical may have had its cringe-inducing lyrical moments, and it may have taken me 15 years to admit it, but my God, Evita sure had one fantastic soundtrack. I will say that even way back then I loved "Another Suitcase in Another Hall." (Which on the album is exactly 3 minutes and 33 seconds long. Huh.)

Evita: Music From The Motion Picture (this was what our album's cover looked like)
"Requiem For Evita" is sure to go down in history as one of the most epic opening numbers to a musical rock opera ever. Right next to "Overture" (Tommy), "In The Flesh?" (The Wall) and... yeah, I've just exhausted all of my rock opera opening song stock knowledge.

Surely a huge part of the Requiem's punch is the melodic foreshadowing to one of the show's biggest numbers, "Rainbow High." My God, how I love this song. Its sheer impact never quite clicked with me as a kid. You'd think the note-for-note Simpsons homage from eight years prior would have clued me in, but nooooooo. It took a much-belated proper playing of the movie soundtrack last November for me to finally "get it." Because I'm culturally dense and thick-headed that way.

The Simpsons has never done an Evita-inspired episode. *cough*
The brash gravitas and mile-a-minute wordplays of "Rainbow High" almost made me wonder if the more accessible film adaptation of the musical would have succeeded at all without Madonna in the title role. And when she mouths that final "star quality" (flourish and all), you can just visualize her standing in front of a mirror, dressed to the nines and beaming with smug, triumphant satisfaction.

On the bright side, "Buenos Aires" immediately took me back to my childhood and my parents' frequent Broadway benders on the family CD player. (Some cheesy lip-synching, ponyback rides, Frank Sinatra and pillow fights may have been involved.)

Another song I didn't expect to like instantly was "I'd Be Surprisingly Good For You," which I gather depicts the hypothetical first meeting of Eva Duarte and Colonel Juan Peron. (I haven't seen the movie yet, I promise I will get around to it very soon, LET'S MOVE ON) Of course everybody by now knows that the song is dripping with the symbolic shrewd politicking that defined the Eva-Juan relationship and is thus not a seduction song in the conventional sense. That still doesn't diminish the song's hypnotic sexual tension though: If I had to choose between waltzing with Antonio Banderas Che and singing a plain hoighty-toighty duet to this song, I'd choose the duet.

"She Is A Diamond" is the shortest number on the CD, but it is also its rare fragile, earnest moment. ("You Must Love Me" is the other one.) The character of Juan Peron is an infrequent presence here anyway, so it seems apt that this short number was still enough to humanize him and paint him as a burgeoning dictator who might actually deeply care about his wife. Say it with me: awwwww.

Perhaps the eerier listening experiences for me had been "A New Argentina" and "And The Money Kept Rolling In", but only because listening to them suddenly gave me this inexplicable urge to go out and buy Here Lies Love. In a perfect universe, Imelda Marcos would have her own polarizing quasi-biographical musical, wildly popular yet tongue-in-cheek enough to make her the next, well, Evita.

Imelda Marcos (Here Lies Love)
"Lament" is, to put it succinctly, a terrifying ending. It puts a sinister spin on the whole musical, and it gets even worse when you stop and consider that the real Eva PerĂ³n's body really did disappear from the face of the earth for a little while. Thus, that danged last song really did turn into a brick-pooping moment for me.

And may I just say, not even a proper playthrough could save me from getting plain sick and tired of "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina." At least that Simpsons episode had the decency to ape other songs from the musical too.

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