He’s honored that his song “Real in Rio,” from the animated movie “Rio,” is one of the only two nominated this year, but upset with the show producers’ decision not to present the tunes during the telecast.
“I am very frustrated, kind of sad that we will not be able to perform such a lively song,” the 71-year-old Brazilian legend said in an interview Monday (Mendes shares the nomination with his countryman Carlinhos Brown and American singer-songwriter Siedah Garrett).
In some ways, it’s reminiscent of what happened to another Latin star, Uruguayan Jorge Drexler, in 2005 when he was nominated in the category for “Al otro lado del rio,” from “The Motorcycle Diaries.” Instead of having the singer-songwriter perform his own song, the Academy decided to call on Antonio Banderas – who is Spanish – to sing it. Drexler, who was very hurt, ended up getting his way after he won: His acceptance speech was simply the first verse of his song, sang by himself.
The difference on this occasion is that Mendes is no stranger in Hollywood. The Grammy-winner, who is based in Los Angeles, boosted his fame in the United States in 1968 by singing Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s Oscar-nominated “The Look of Love” at the Academy Awards ceremony.
Besides “Real in Rio,” the other song nominated is Bret McKenzie’s “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets.” It is also not included in the telecast, the Academy confirmed on Monday (Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, nevertheless, will appear as presenters).
The producers’ decision not to showcase both songs has been criticized by some who think such performances would have injected great color into a ceremony that last year saw its ratings drop 10 percent.
In Mendes’ opinion, “Real in Rio,” which mirrors the awakening of the birds in a forest near Rio de Janeiro, would have been “perfect” for the show.
“(It’s) such a lively song,” Mendes, a first-time nominee, said. “You’ve seen the movie, you’ve heard the song, it’s a perfect thing to do live but ... it’s really up to the television producers. I was just hoping until, you know, till today, I’m still hoping. But I don’t think it’s gonna happen. Listen, you can’t have everything. ... I’ll be there anyway.”