Introducing…Helena Paparizou

Introducing... is The Local's guide to the glamour of Sweden's international celebrity elite. This week we look at the nation's favourite Greek, Helena Paparizou.

Who is she and why is she famous?

Helena Paparizou is a Swedish-born singer who has twice represented Greece in the Eurovision Song Contest.

First time round was 2001, when she achieved a creditable third place as part of the duo Antique. Then last year she entered as a solo artist and actually won the thing with the song My Number One.

With two Greek albums already behind her, Paparizou has just released her first full-length English-language offering, The Game of Love.

Meanwhile, the song that won her the Eurovision was released in the USA in August, reaching number 8 on the dance club charts.

Would I have heard this My Number One song? The title sounds familiar.

You would. It was what Swedes call a radio plague, clogging up the airwaves for months on end.

And now the plague has spread stateside?

Yes, but it’s not life-threatening or anything. Which is more than can be said for Paparizou’s bout of childhood pneumonia. Twice she was pronounced a goner but a lengthy spell in Greece, far from her drizzle-ridden Gothenburg home, did her the world of good.

Pneumonia is a Greek word, isn’t it?

Yes, many of the words we use in our everyday lives, such as ‘melodramatic’ and ‘Euro-music’, stem from the Greek.

How very Hellenic. But is Paparizou well-known in Sweden?

Yes, very. But her fame here is as nothing compared to the reverence in which she is held in southern Europe, where she is a veritable superstar. A siren if you will.

I will.

And, by the way, she is more Ellenic than Hellenic.

How so?

It all has to do with the disappearance of the Greek language’s aspirant ‘H’ apparently. Helena is the Swedified and anglicised version, and she’s happy to use it for the sake of international convenience. But her friends call her Elena.

Right, got it. And where does Jelena lay her hat these days?

She moved to Athens with her boyfriend earlier this year. But in many ways she is as Swedish as electric advent candles, and she has already hinted that she would like to represent the land of her youth in the Eurovision Song Contest.

How thrilling. Any idea if her new album is any good?

Don’t know, but her new promotional website is enough to make you reach for your revolver. Every move of the mouse causes a flight of doves to flutter across the screen. It’s very irritating.

‘Irritating’? Is that derived from the Greek?

No, it comes from the Latin, as do ‘avian’ and ‘platitudes’.

Speaking of birds, has Jelena ever modelled swimsuits for Panos Emporio?

Good question. And yes, she did once pose for a collection by that other mercurial Greek in Sweden Panos Papadopoulos. She appeared in a catalogue alongside Victoria Silvstedt.

Victoria who?

Oh, don’t start that again. Anyway, a few months ago, Panos, a self-proclaimed modern-day Odyseuss, had a computer stolen from his office containing unpublished topless pictures of stars such as Paparizou and Victoria Silvstedt.

Beware of Greeks bearing gifts! Are they available online?

That’s the thing. Papadopolous says he got a call a couple of months later from somebody demanding payment, or else… But nothing has happened since.

Hm, couldn’t Papadopolous just be making it all up for the sake of deliciously titillating headlines?

What a despicable suggestion! Only a ‘misanthropic idiot’ would insinuate such a thing.


Is Elijah Wood in Sundsvall and what is he doing there?

It is not that Sundsvall is not a nice town. It is just that it is not normally the place where Hollywood stars go for a night out. So rumours that Elijah Wood was visiting the town quickly went viral on Thursday.

Is Elijah Wood in Sundsvall and what is he doing there?
The main shopping street in Sundsvall. And Elijah Wood. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT & Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

The 35-year-old actor of Lord of the Rings fame was reportedly spotted visiting restaurant 'Tuppen' in the central Swedish town, which posted picture evidence on Facebook and Instagram late on Wednesday.

News of the unexpected celebrity visit quickly dominated local news headlines in Sweden, and was picked up by some of the national newspapers too, with growing excitement on social media. Several newspapers even asked readers to call them if they had any more information about the visit.

“Starstruck at Tuppen. Celebrity visit in the shape of Elijah Wood himself from the Lord of the Rings. Thanks for the visit!” wrote the restaurant.

Not everyone was convinced that it actually was the star, however, and some speculated that it could just be a lookalike or a clever PR trick by the restaurant itself to attract more visitors.

“I think it's fake. They had a customer who looked like him and wanted to joke,” wrote one person on their Facebook page. “Is it fake or is he looking for the ring in Sundsvall now?” wrote another.

Wood, who's currently starring in BBC America series Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, visited Stockholm last month to perform at the Södra Teatern venue with his friend Zach Cowie as DJ duo Wooden Wisdom. His film production company SpectreVision, of which he is a co-founder, helped produce Swedish 2013 science fiction movie LFO.

With a population of some 50,000 people, historic sawmill town Sundsvall is the third biggest town in Sweden's northern region Norrland and Sweden's 21st biggest town overall. It is home to one of the campuses of Mid-Sweden University as well as Sweden's first-ever international casino.

Sundsvall's nearby island Alnön was recently voted one of the most beautiful places in Sweden. Restaurant Tuppen is one of a number of restaurants in the town. It opened in May this year and aims to serve locally produced meat and fish.

The reason behind Wood's supposed visit to the town was not immediately known, but it would not be the first time an international celebrity has fallen in love with unexpected places in Sweden.

Last year US-Haitian rapper Wyclef Jean revealed that he wanted to move to Sandviken outside Gävle. British actor Hugh Grant recently bought a house in Torekov, southern Sweden. And rapper Kanye West paid a visit to the rural town of Älmhult to convince its Ikea headquarters to let him design furniture.