There is no denying the fact that technically, Patti LuPone can sing circles (as well as any other shapes) around Madonna. After LuPone’s Grammy performance of “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” Sunday evening, news media outlets, such as the Los Angeles Times, have pitted the two women against each other in the past week for absolute clickbait. Madonna — as usual — is the one criticized, even though she wasn’t even at the Grammy Awards.
Most praised LuPone’s performance. And technically, LuPone proved that age doesn’t hinder singing ability. But LuPone’s vocals were also all over the place, and unlike Madonna’s somewhat restrained performance of the same song in 1996, Lupone’s vocals made absolutely no connection with the song she was singing. Were all of those who praised LuPone’s performance listening to the same one this author was? It was as if LuPone was trying to remind the world that she is the one and only Evita. But the fact that people, even if negatively, brought Madonna’s name up when discussing the performance proves LuPone didn’t succeed.
Let’s go back in time a little bit. In 1996, Madonna shocked the world with her fantastic portrayal in the hit movie Evita. The film certainly was overhyped and didn’t become the blockbuster that Disney had expected. But the film, even in limited release, made over $50 million in the United States (Box Office Mojo figures). Evita made $141 internationally. Sorry, naysayers — that makes the film a success, especially by 1996 and 1997 standards. Overall, Madonna received positive notices from critics. There were those, blinded by their hatred of the star, that criticized Madonna. However, they only represented a small minority.
Madonna won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in Evita. And she was considered a front-runner for the Oscars in 1997. When she didn’t even get a nomination, people, some who could care less about Madonna, were shocked. Some thought that Madonna was being punished for her “lack of morals,” which, in hindsight, is hilarious given the future revealings of Woody Allen, Harvey Weinstein, and others.
In general, Madonna isn’t a great actress. But that didn’t matter for her role in Evita. She didn’t act; she actually became Evita. And for a pop singer, Madonna really outdid herself. It’s as if she became another singer, giving emotional performances in songs such as “You Must Love Me” and “Another Suitcase In Another Hall” that nobody thought she’d ever be capable of.
The soundtrack for Evita was an international hit, and the only ones who criticized it were those who compared Madonna’s singing to Patti LuPone’s. However, there was never a time in pop music history that an artist, not known for singing abilities, shocked so many people. The movie and soundtrack helped Madonna breathe new life into a career that most thought was dead by the mid-1990s.
The idea that Madonna “was awful” in Evita has only developed within the past 10 years. As an independent female who plays by her own rules rather than the ones a patriarchal society sets for women, Madonna has become a huge threat. She was already a threat in the 1990s, but acting “proper” and getting married helped gain her accolades — all which have been erased since she divorced and continues to not “act her age.”
This isn’t to say that Madonna, who has produced many WTF moments in the past ten years, isn’t also to blame for hurting her legacy. But to understand the effects of misogyny in the entertainment industry and society on the whole, one must listen to Madonna’s famous speech at the Billboard Women In Music event that took place at the end of 2016. It’s eye-opening and explains a lot.
That’s why it was absolutely disgusting that some cheered when, as reported by E! Online, LuPone, who admits to only seeing one scene in Evita, disgustingly slammed Madonna’s performance in the film. It was pretty obvious that Patti was still bitter for being turned down for the film role. And it was quite ironic that many who praised Madonna’s performance back in 1996 were suddenly on LuPone’s side. They also went for Andy Cohen’s usual bait of pitting two strong women against each other.
Patti LuPone, her PR team, and her fawners in the media may think they are erasing one of Madonna’s biggest career victories. But if LuPone’s Broadway performance as Evita was as spectacular as they say, there wouldn’t be any need to mention Madonna’s name every time LuPone’s is mentioned. Patty LuPone is Evita. But, so is Madonna. Deal with it, haters.