Peter Leonard

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN: Sweden’s Loreen has clinched the top spot at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest with her dance hit Euphoria, pushing aside competition from a sextet of Russian grannies and a Serbian balladeer.

Juries and television viewers from across Europe awarded Loreen 372 points, handing her an easy win in an event that ended in the early hours today in host country Azerbaijan. Loreen, a 28-year-old of Moroccan-Berber descent, went for the windswept look as she battled a wind machine to belt her club music-lite hit. Sweden, as home to this year’s winner, will take over hosting duties next year.

Russia’s Buranovskiye Babushki, a group of six elderly ladies, garnered much public affection for a cute onstage presence, but couldn’t quite match Sweden’s more contemporary offering.

Zeljko Joksimovic, a Eurovision regular from Serbia, came in a distant third with his slow and stripped-down Nije Ljubav Stvar.

The night opened with some two-note crooning by the U.K.’s black-clad veteran act Engelbert Humperdinck, who Scottish comedian Robert Florence acerbically remarked on Twitter looked “like an inaccurate waxwork of Johnny Cash.”

The 57-year-old pan-European competition viewed by some 125 million people worldwide is hailed by its legion of devoted fans as harmless, kitschy fun that allows Europeans to forget their differences — and economic troubles — for at least one night.

Singing for Albania, Rona Nishliu, carefully balancing an elaborate braid, gave a frankly terrifying and ear-shattering rendition of indescribable Suus.

Europe’s more boring countries lived down to expectations with performances that were forgotten even before they were over. Slow ballads were the flavor of the evening, with Estonia arguably achieving new depths of bland.