In one of the most competitive Grammy categories, two slightly hunched, long-since hip music veterans bested the likes of Mary J. Blige, U2, Nelly Furtado and Timbaland. Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder, who have a combined 136 years of legendary crooning between them, took home the award for best pop collaboration with vocals, the first award handed out at the Grammys tonight.
Their duet of ‘‘For Once in My Life’’ trumped Mary J. Blige and U2’s ‘‘One,’’ Sheryl Crow and Sting’s ‘‘Always on Your Side,’’ Nelly Furtado and Timbaland’s ‘‘Promiscuous’’ and Shakira and Wyclef Jean’s ‘‘Hips Don’t Lie.’’
‘‘Promiscuous’’ and ‘‘Hips Don’t Lie’’ were two of the biggest hits of last summer — which could make Wonder and Bennett’s win a prime example for those who deride the Recording Academy as out-of-touch old fogies. Blige and Bono’s collaboration on ‘‘One’’ had also been roundly acclaimed for adding soul to the U2 song.
Nevertheless, it was Bennett, 80, and Wonder, 56, who earned a winning standing ovation from the Los Angeles crowd.
‘‘Stevie Wonderful,’’ declared Bennett.
Wonder said it was an ‘‘amazing moment’’ to be honored for a song he wrote at age 17. He also said it was a ‘‘bittersweet moment’’ and dedicated the award to his late mother, who passed away last June.
Bennett thanked a member of a younger generation, his son and manager Danny, whom he credited with coming up with the idea to make a duet with Wonder for his album ‘‘Duets: An American Classic.’’
It was Wonder’s 22nd Grammy, and Bennett’s 13th.
Bennett added thanks to ‘‘the public, for being so good to me right through the years.’’