Swedish singer Loreen has stormed to victory in the Eurovision Song Contest in Baku, Azerbaijan. Sweden will play host to the next competition in 2013.
Some 120 million television viewers tuned into Europe's annual song contest on Saturday night, which saw Swedish singer Loreen win a crushing victory
The 28-year-old's stomping tune "Euphoria" scored a convincing 372 points, more than 100 points ahead of second-placed Russia with its choir of red-clad singing grannies.
Hosts Azerbaijan came in fourth place behind Serbia. Germany's offering, Roman Lob, came in eighth with his song "Standing Still," a year after the German city of Dusseldorf hosted the event thanks to pop singer Lena's victory in 2010.
In a competition which will be remembered for its collection of somewhat older contenders, Britain's 76-year-old legendary crooner Engelbert Humperdinck came a disappointing second from last place.
Protests plague Eurovision
Twenty-six acts made it to compete in the final, which was broadcast live from Azerbaijan's capital, Baku. The competition was the biggest event ever hosted by Azerbaijan, which spent some $60 million (46.9 million euros) on a revamp of the city. Some 20,000 people were gathered in the specially-built "Crystal Hall" venue on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
But the glitz and glamour of the competition didn’t stop opposition groups using the event to shine a spotlight on the country's questionable human rights record.
Dozens of anti-regime protesters were arrested in the capital in the build-up to the competition, and many accused the government of forcing people from their homes for the building of the hall. The country is run by President Ilham Aliyev, who took over the role from his father in 2003.
The winning country always hosts the next year's Eurovision finals, meaning that Sweden will host the 58th annual competition next year.
ccp/ncy (AFP, AP)