Published on July 5, 2016
“Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” is a song recorded by Julie Covington for the 1976 concept album, Evita, and was later included in the 1978 musical of the same name. The song was written and composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice while they were researching the life of Argentinian leader Eva Perón. It appeared at the opening and near the end of the show, initially as the spirit of the dead Eva exhorting the people of Argentina not to mourn her, and finally during Eva’s speech from the balcony of Casa Rosada. Covington was signed by the songwriters for the track, based on her previous work in musicals.
The Evita album had taken 3–4 months to record, since Rice was not satisfied with the intensity of the initial recordings. It had a number of different titles before “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” was decided as the final one. The song shares its melody with “Oh What a Circus” from the same show and lyrically consists of platitudes where Eva tries to win the favour of the people of Argentina. It was released in the United Kingdom on 12 November 1976 as the first single from the album, accompanied by national and trade advertising, full-colour posters, display sleeves as well as radio interviews.
The song reached number-one on the UK Singles Chart and earned a gold certification from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), with over a million copies sold. It also reached the top of the charts in Australia, Belgium, Ireland, New Zealand and the Netherlands. “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” was critically appreciated, with Rice and Lloyd Webber winning the 1977 Ivor Novello award in the category of Best Song Musically and Lyrically. When Evita moved to a London theatre, Covington—who had become disenchanted with the whole project—refused to reprise the part of Eva and the role went to Elaine Paige. “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” has been covered by multiple artists, including The Carpenters, Olivia Newton-John, Sinéad O’Connor as well as the TV series Glee actors Lea Michele and Chris Colfer.
In 1996, American singer Madonna starred in the film adaptation of the musical in the title role. Her version of “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” was released as the second single from the film soundtrack on 4 February 1997. A separate version called the “Miami Mix”, which included re-recorded vocals in English and Spanish and an Argentinean bandoneon in the song’s intro, was promoted to radio. Madonna’s vocals received positive critical response and the song went on to reach the top of the charts across Europe, Spain and the remix reached number-one on US Dance Club Songs charts. The song also reached the top-ten of the charts a number of nations, including the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, and received gold certifications from five of them.