By PETER LEONARD, Associated Press
MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian group known as the Buranovo Grannies has swept aside glamorous opposition to represent the country at this year's Eurovision Song Contest.
The eight women beat 24 competitors, including a double act comprising 2008 Eurovision winner Dima Bilan, in a televised show late Wednesday.
An outfit from a village in Russia's Udmurtia Republic, the women blend modern pop sounds with their own traditional choral singing style.
The refrain of the Buranovo Grannies "Party for Everybody" is in English, but the remainder of the song is in Udmurt, a distant relation of Finnish spoken by some 325,000 people.
The 57th Eurovision Song Contest will be held in May in Baku, Azerbaijan.
While some countries compete for the Eurovision title in earnest, the contest has for many become an object of mockery.
But the Buranovo Grannies, who performed in customary peasant garb, say they want to be taken seriously.
One group member, who identified herself in an interview to Russian television station Rossiya-1 as granny Olya, said their goal in performing is to raise money to build a church in their village of Buranovo, which is home to around 650 people.
"Grandmothers don't need glory and wealth. We have family, we have a home, we have enough to live," grandmother Olya said.
At an average age of 75, the Buranovo Grannies will be competing with U.K. entry Engelbert Humperdinck for the gray vote.
Humperdinck, a sideburned, square-jawed, 75-year-old crooner who famously beat the Beatles to the No. 1 spot in the U.K. charts in 1967, was selected by the BBC as Britain's entry in the Eurovision.
Humperdinck — whose former name is Arnold Dorsey — was a 1960s sex symbol whose "Release Me" topped the British charts in 1967, keeping The Beatles' "Penny Lane"/''Strawberry Fields Forever" at No. 2. He also had a top 10 U.S. hit in 1976 with "After the Lovin."
Previous winners of the contest include '60s chanteuse Lulu, Sweden's ABBA — victors in 1974 with "Waterloo" — and Canada's Celine Dion, who triumphed for Switzerland in 1988.
On Wednesday, Armenia informed the European Broadcasting Union that it would pull out of the contest over security concerns.
Armenia and Azerbaijan, which won the right to host the Eurovision by winning the competition last year, have been bitter enemies since the two former Soviet nations went to war in the 1990s over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory.
Buranovo Grannies' winning performance:
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