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.