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Making me doubt the positive buzz surrounding Madonna’s performance in Evita is her underwhelming singing on its just-released soundtrack. Even if not compared to the recordings of such outstanding Evas as Patti LuPone and Julie Covington, la Diva’s turn is the one thing her fans will never forgive—bland. She delivers “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” halfheartedly, as though terrified of botching the musical’s most recognizable number. She doesn’t, thank God, but neither does she give it any real oomph. Likewise, Eva’s campaign song, “A New Argentina,” so lacks conviction that it’s hard to believe the Perons made it to the Casa Rosada. Joining Madonna are Antonio Banderas, whose Che is enthusiastic if not always understandable, and Jonathan Pryce, who is excellent as the wishy-washy Juan. His talent even seems to rub off on the first lady; their duet, “I’d Be Surprisingly Good for You,” is an album high point. Throughout the original score, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music is competent and Tim Rice’s lyrics are the best he’s ever written, but their ridiculous new song, “You Must Love Me,” comes off as a lame attempt to give Madonna a hit single. “Give me a chance/And I’ll let you see how/Nothing has changed,” she implores, but she’s just fishing for a sucker. I used to be saddened by Eva’s slow death from cancer. Now that Madonna’s singing the part, I only wish she’d go sooner.