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 a total of 372 points, handing her an easy win in an event that ended in the early hours today in host country Azerbaijan. Sweden will take over hosting duties next year.
Russia’s Buranovskiye Babushki, a group of six elderly ladies, garnered much public affection for their 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.”
Spears jumps into ‘X Factor’ role
Britney Spears has been on the job less than a week and she’s already proving to be a popular judge on “The X Factor.”
The pop queen is also growing into her role as critic on the FOX singing contest show.
“The X Factor” staged its first auditions for the upcoming season Thursday and Friday in Austin, Texas, and judging by the boisterous cheers and the “I love you, Britney!” calls from the crowd, the Grammy-winning singer is already a hit in her new role.
She’s also showing she’s not afraid to vote against contestants or disagree occasionally with show creator Simon Cowell and fellow judges Demi Lovato and L.A. Reid.
“I feel like your song was just in the wrong key,” Spears told a contestant Friday, adding that choosing a different song would have been “more interesting.” She told another contestant, “Your voice is really sweet, but I feel like you need a little more training.”
Spears, 30, was brought in to help boost ratings for “The X Factor” after its debut season fell short of Cowell’s predictions. The former child performer became an international star with her 1999 debut album, “… Baby One More Time.”
The birthday bunch
Actor Christopher Lee is 90. Actress Lee Meriwether is 77. Musician Ramsey Lewis is 77. Actor Louis Gossett Jr. is 76. Country singer Don Williams is 73. Actor Bruce Weitz is 69. Singer Cilla Black is 69. Singer Bruce Cockburn is 67. Actor Richard Schiff (“The West Wing”) is 57. Singer Siouxsie Sioux (Siouxsie and the Banshees) is 55. Singer-guitarist Neil Finn (Crowded House, Split Enz) is 54. Actress Peri Gilpin (“Frasier”) is 51. Comedian Adam Carolla is 48. Actor Todd Bridges (“Diff’rent Strokes”) is 47. Drummer Sean Kinney (Alice in Chains) is 46. Actor Jack McBrayer (“30 Rock”) is 39. Rapper Andre 3000 (Outkast) is 37. Rapper Jadakiss is 37. Actor Chris Colfer (“Glee”) is 22. Actor Ethan Dampf (“American Dreams”) is 18.