Eleni "Elena" Paparizou[1] (Greek: Έλενα Παπαρίζου, pronounced [ˈelena papaˈrizu]; born 31 January 1982), usually referred to abroad as Helena Paparizou, is a Greek-Swedish singer and occasional songwriter, who was born and raised in Sweden by Greek parents. She began her career there in 1999 as a member of the duo Antique, while she also worked briefly as a model for a Swedish-Greek brand. After rising to recognition in Greece following its participation in the Eurovision Song Contest 2001, the group based the remainder of its career there until Paparizou embarked on a solo career in 2003 and released her debut album Protereotita (2004), with emphasis on more pop sounds in addition to laïko. In 2005 she won the Eurovision Song Contest for Greece for the first time in the contest's history, with the song "My Number One", significantly contributing to her career. Following the victory, her album peaked at number one on the Greek Albums Chart and was certified double platinum by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry of Greece, while she also briefly attempted a career beyond Greece with English-language material, charting in a few countries abroad. Her three subsequent albums Iparhi Logos (2006), The Game of Love (2006) and Vrisko To Logo Na Zo (2008) all peaked at number one in Greece and reached platinum sales. Her fifth studio album, Giro Apo T' Oneiro (2010), was also certified platinum.


Paparizou has also won three Arion Music Awards, a European Border Breakers Award, 15 MAD Video Music Awards—more than any other artist— and an MTV Europe Music Award. On 14 March 2010, prior to the release of her fifth album, Alpha TV ranked her as the 14th top certified female artist in the nation's phonographic era (since 1960), totaling seven platinum and four gold records. Paparizou was the most successful debuting female artist of the 2000s and established herself as one of the top pop artists of the latter half of the decade. As of 2010, she has been certified for the sales of 209 thousand albums, 47.5 thousand singles, and 30 thousand digital downloads by IFPI Greece, in addition to 100 thousand total record sales in Greece as part of Antique,[2] as well as 24 thousand certified albums in Cyprus, and 20 thousand singles in Sweden during her solo career. In 2010, Forbes listed Paparizou as the 21st most powerful and influential celebrity in Greece.

Early life

Elena Paparizou was born on 31 January 1982 in Borås, Västergötland, Sweden, the youngest child of Greek immigrant parents Georgios Paparizos and Efrosini "Froso" Paparizou.[3] Her parents both originate from the Karditsa region, with her father being from a nearby village, Toxias.[4] She has a sister named Areti, known as "Rita" and a brother Konstantinos, known as "Dinos".[5] Paparizou's mother had moved to Borås in 1960 and worked in factories, while during a trip back to her hometown she met Paparizou's father and they got married. The two moved to Borås in 1970.[4] In 1985, the family moved to Greece to live in Volos with relatives because Paparizou suffered from asthma and her lungs could not endure the cold Scandinavian climate.[5] They returned after two years when the problem was resolved, thereon living in the town of Örgryte, Gothenburg.[5] Because of this early move, Paparizou spoke Greek as a first language. As a child, she did not hang out with many Swedish children,[6] and attended a Greek-language school.[5] Throughout her childhood, she continued suffering from breathing problems, was once rushed to the hospital because of them, and recalls feeling like she had left her body at least twice.[6] She continues to suffer from the issue and often carries an inhaler onstage for when she loses her breath.[6]

Paparizou became interested in the arts at a young age and her parents soon involved her in singing, dancing and acting training in combination with her academic studies at school. At age seven she began lessons in piano, ballet and traditional dances. She performed for the first time in front of a Greek audience at age 11 singing Christos Dantis' "Moro Mou".[7] By age 13, Paparizou had realized she wanted to become a singer and decided to take a serious approach in preparation for it, her first experiences being with Greek music.[6] At the age of 14, Paparizou formed her first group Soul Funkomatic with three Hispanic teenagers and only played hip hop music, while saving money to record songs; two years later the group disbanded.[6] On 29 October 1998, 13 of Paparizou's close friends died in the Gothenburg nightclub fire during a hip hop party that left 63 people dead and more than 200 injured. Paparizou had begged her mother to let her go to the party, but was not allowed to attend.[8] After losing her friends, Paparizou decided to abandon singing, and she started classes at the Art Performing School where she studied theater, acting, television and directing.[8]

Recording career

1999–2003: Antique era
Main article: Antique (duo)
Paparizou with Nikos Panagiotidis as Antique.

In 1999, some DJ friends of her brother's asked her to make a demo of the Notis Sfakianakis hit "Opa Opa".[8] Paparizou told them that the lyrics are for a man, so she asked to sing it with childhood friend Nikos Panagiotidis,[8][9] whom she had met through her siblings at a Greek diaspora celebration in Stockholm.[5] At that time, some record producers were undergoing a project to sign a duo consisting of a male and a female that would sing covers of traditional Greek hits.[5] They came into contact with Paparizou who recommended Panagiotidis,[5] and together they formed Antique, signing to the newly-formed independent label Bonnier Music.[10] They settled on the name "Antique" because it left an impression of being "classic" and "timeless".[5] Paparizou admitted that Greek music had been something of an acquired taste for her, and that the name was probably a reflection of her childhood impression of it being something rather distant and old-fashioned; something that she only really associated with her summer vacations in Greece.[6] Their debut single "Opa Opa" became a hit in Sweden and eventually entered the top ten in Sweden and Norway,[11] making them the first act to enter into the Swedish top five with a song sung in Greek.[10] Their later singles "Dinata Dinata", "Follow Me" and "Moro Mou" also charted well.[10]

Although relatively unknown in Greece,[6][12] the duo entered the national final to be Greece's representatives in the Eurovision Song Contest 2001 in Copenhagen, Denmark with the song "(I Would) Die for You", written by Nikos Terzis with lyrics by Antonis Pappas. Placing joint first in the national final, they were declared winners by default as they had won the public vote.[5] The song placed third in the actual contest with 147 points; although equaled by later entries, it was the best placing Greece had ever received until Paparizou won the contest as a solo artist in 2005.[13] The song went on to become their biggest hit in Greece, reaching Platinum status, while it peaked at number three in Sweden, and charted elsewhere.[14] Antique's success in the contest led to them earning recognition in Greece and working there for the remainder of their career. In continuation, they recorded four studio albums that achieved mild success, performed a small European and North American tour, and collaborated with artists such as Katy Garbi and Slavi Trifonov. Following their course as Antique, Paparizou and Panagiotidis decided to pursue solo careers, however Panagiotidis would not manage to establish himself as a solo act.[5] Initially, negative criticism relating to the disbandment centered around Paparizou, who was accused of abandoning her friend for her own career interests; however, Paparizou responded by saying that the split was not permanent, but rather a mutual decision to try other things, with plans of a reunion in mind.[6]

2003–05: Solo development, Protereotita, and Eurovision
See also: Greece in the Eurovision Song Contest 2005
Paparizou performing "My Number One" for Greece at the Eurovision Song Contest 2005.

In late 2003, Paparizou signed a solo recording contract with Sony Music Greece and released her debut single "Anapandites Kliseis",[15] a double A-side with "Treli Kardia", which peaked at number one on the Greek Top 50 Singles Chart and was certified Gold by IFPI Greece.[16] The video of "Anapandites Kliseis" won her a MAD Video Music Award in 2004 for Best Dance Video and was nominated for Best Video by a New Artist, while a duet of the song with its writer Christos Dantis was performed at the ceremony.[17] During the winter season of 2003–04, Paparizou was the opening act for Antonis Remos and Giannis Spanos at the Stadio Piraios nightclub.[18] On 25 August 2004, she released her debut solo album, Protereotita from which "Anditheseis", "Katse Kala" and "Stin Kardia Mou Mono Thlipsi" were released as singles.[19] The album earned Paparizou her first Arion Award for Best Female Pop Singer, while the videos of "Katse Kala" and "Treli Kardia" won her MAD Awards for Best Female Video and Best Direction, respectively.[20] Originally, the album had moderate success, but after Paparizou's Eurovision win the following year and subsequent reissues it was certified double Platinum by IFPI Greece. To capitalize on the success, it was reissued as Protereotita: Euro Edition in single and double disc format, while it was released as a compilation in some European countries as My Number One, peaking at number 13 in Sweden.[21] It spun off three singles: ("My Number One", "The Light in Our Soul and "A Brighter Day"), peaking at number one, three and 24, respectively, in the aforementioned country, while charting to a lesser extent elsewhere.[22] "My Number One" charted in a number of countries and was released in the United States by Moda Records with remixes in August 2006, peaking at number eight on the Bilboard Hot Dance Club Play chart.[23] The Euro Edition became Paparizou's first album to reach number one and earned her another Arion for Best Female Pop Singer, with "My Number One" peaking at number one on the Singles Chart, being certified Platinum, and becoming her first number-one airplay hit, while "The Light in Our Soul"/"To Fos Sti Psyhi" peaked at two. Paparizou released a new CD single "Mambo!", peaking at number one on both the Singles Chart for 10 weeks and gaining Platinum status, as well as the airplay charts, remaining her most successful single to date. The CD single itself was the second highest-selling single of the year, surpassing her Eurovision-winner "My Number One". She performed "My Number One" at the MAD VMAs in 2005 and in 2006 was awarded three honors for Best Pop Video ("The Light in Our Soul"), Best Video by a Female Artist ("My Number One"), and Artist of the Year ("Mambo!"). The album was reissued for a third time as Protereotita: Euro Edition + Mambo! in November. In 2007, Paparizou was awarded with a European Border Breakers Award at the Midem Festival in Cannes, France for the international editions of her debut album, recognized by the European Union as one of the year's ten new artists to have success with their debut albums abroad.[24] In promotion of the album, Paparizou was the opening act to the spring 2004 season show at Thalassa, sharing the stage with three other young artists, Apostolia Zoi, Nino and Thanos Petrelis,[25] followed by performing as the opening act at Fever for Sakis Rouvas and Giorgos Mazonakis for the winter season.[26][27]
Paparizou performing in Chicago, Illinois, in September 2005.

Paparizou began residing in Greece permanently in 2004[28] and after a long selection process led by national broadcaster Hellenic Radio and Television (ERT), she was internally selected as Greece's representative in the Eurovision Song Contest 2005 in Kiev, Ukraine.[29] Paparizou had not been an original choice of the broadcaster, who had been trying to secure a high profile artist and thus she was viewed as a possible back-up when the other deals failed to materialize.[30] At the time, she expressed that no-one had wanted her to participate in Eurovision.[31] The song "My Number One", composed by Dantis with lyrics by him and Natalia Germanou, was chosen by both the jury vote and televote in the Greek national final as the entry, defeating "Let's Get Wild" and "OK";[32] the fourth song, "The Light in Our Soul", was disqualified due to being released prior to the deadline.[33] Although her first name had previously always been spelled "Elena", Paparizou chose to promote herself as "Helena" as her Eurovision appearance approached, citing for it to stand out from other names that are popular in other countries; thus the spelling with the H has since been used on all non-Greek promotions and releases,[34] although she has since stated that she prefers to be known as "Elena".[35] Paparizou went on tour across Europe to promote the song.[36] During this time, she was appointed an ambassador of the Greek Ministry of Tourism by its Μinister, Dimitris Avramopoulos, who invested 500 thousand euros into her campaign to promote Greece during her time abroad through merchandise and advertisements that aired throughout Europe.[36][37][38] His decision, deemed a publicity stunt, was reviewed tepidly by colleagues; however, impressed with the result, he issued Paparizou to fulfill the role for the following year.[37] On 21 May she won the contest for Greece for the first time in history, earning 230 points and the maximum 12 points from ten nations—tied for the most in one night up until that point. The moment of the victory garnered the highest television viewing ratings in Greek history[39] and provoked mass celebrations on the streets of Athens,[40] while she was also greeted by various government officials, including then Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos and then Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis at a reception at the Maximos Mansion, upon return.[41][42][43]

Paparizou's Eurovision victory catapulted her from a relatively minor celebrity to a notable music act, cementing her solo career and giving her some international exposure.[6][12][44] On 14 July she performed at the birthday gala of Princess Victoria of Sweden where while ascending the stage to greet the royal family, King Carl XVI Gustaf stood to embrace Paparizou instead of offering a handshake, causing controversy for putting his hand on her back, lower than what is socially acceptable. The Royal Court later issued a statement that his hand slipped.[45] She subsequently toured Europe, performing in all countries that gave her 12 points, while a tour of North America and Australia for the Greek diaspora with Nikos Kourkoulis followed.[46] Paparizou stated that should she ever consider doing anything Eurovision oriented again it would have to be for her birth country of Sweden,[47] since she already had her turn with Greece. After serving as an opening act on numerous occasions, Paparizou performed as a main act at Fever for the 2005–06 season.[48] Georgia Laimou of E-go, an affiliate of the newspaper Eleftheros Typos, gave the show a poor review, citing unprofessional elements and weak vocal performances and noted that the show was lacking in attendance, particularly the elite groups who often reserve the front row tables.[49]

2006–07: Iparhi Logos, The Game of Love, and soundtracks
Paparizou performing with Paschalis Terzis at Iera Odos in 2006.

In January 2006, Paparizou was one of 25 artists who participated in the group Simmeteho Energa in the recording of the charity single "Eho Ti Dinami", which was released as a CD Single in support of the Greek Cancer Society. Paparizou was one of eight main vocalists. Paparizou's second album, Iparhi Logos, was released in Greece on 12 April 2006 to good critical reception. In promotion, Paparizou performed the title track at the Arion Music Awards.[50] The album, a two disc set, contained both previously released material and live recordings from her MAD Secret Concert held in December 2005, being the first edition of the series.[51] The album peaked at number one in both Greece and Cyprus and generated three hit singles ("Iparhi Logos", "Gigolo" and "An Ihes Erthi Pio Noris"). It topped the Greek Albums Chart for multiple weeks and was certified platinum by IFPI Greece after seven months for shipments of 30 thousand copies[52] and also reaching Platinum in Cyprus for shipments of six thousand copies.[19] A cover of Celine Dion's "Just Walk Away" was released as a promo single, while the Greek version of "Mambo!" was also included. Paparizou won MAD VMAs for Best Video by a Female Artist ("Gigolo") and Best-Dressed Artist in a Video ("An Ihes Erthi Pio Noris") out of five nominations and also opened the show singing "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" and "Min Fevgeis";[53][54] the album was also nominated for two Cyprus Music Awards in 2007, where she also performed.[55] The album was reissued in February 2007 as Iparhi Logos: Platinum Edition to include Paparizou's number one hit "Mazi Sou", one of two songs she contributed for the soundtrack of the television series of the same name, "Fos" from the Barbie kai I Dodeka Vasilopoules soundtrack released in 2006, and her newest hit single, a cover of Voula Georgouti's rebetiko "Min Fevgeis", which reached number two.[56] Prior to the reissue, the singles were also released on the EP single Fos, which reached number 1 on the Greek Top 50 Singles Chart and was certified Gold, making it her fourth consecutive number-one hit on that chart.[57] On May 20, 2006, Paparizou opened the Eurovision Song Contest 2006 in Athens with "My Number One" and later performed "Mambo!" to promote her song internationally, however, ERT ran commercials during the performance and thus it was not broadcast in many nations. Paparizou's song "Heroes" was the official song of the 2006 European Athletics Championships in Gothenburg, where it was performed at the event. The single was released in Sweden and Finland, becoming her second number-one hit in the former.

Following Eurovision, Paparizou expressed interest in beginning an international career and her debut English-language album The Game of Love was released on 25 October 2006 and was followed by releases in 14 countries covering Europe and South Africa by April 2007, although this was much less than had been expected in hopes of kicking off an international career.[58][59] In Greece and Cyprus, the album went to number one and received Platinum certifications. Considered a "foreign" release, the album was only eligible to chart on the Greek Foreign Albums Chart, which it topped.[60] It also topped the mixed Greek Albums Chart[61] and was certified platinum by IFPI Greece after 11 weeks on the chart in January 2007, denoting shipments of 15 thousand copies.[62] "Teardrops", a number-one hit, was released as the first Greek single from the album, as "Mambo!" and "Gigolo" were previously released on Iparhi Logos, as was much of the album's material. The album failed to chart in many countries, peaking at 18 in Sweden and becoming her least successful album there since Antique's debut Mera Me Ti Mera. Thus her label cancelled many of the foreign releases. "Mambo!" charted in Sweden at number 5 and became Gold, while it was also released in five other countries and promoted by others. A new video was filmed for the song that was targeted towards a broader audience.[63] The song charted in a few countries, but its success was limited outside of Sweden, with no official European release date being announced. The single failed to make any impact on any major market. It was also planned to be released in the United States by Moda, however those plans were later abandoned. The third international single was planned to be "The Game of Love" and was scheduled for an April 2007 release but was canceled due to the album's lack of success, and also since her latest "Gigolo" was not overly successful, peaking at number 11, her second lowest charting single in Sweden, and failing to chart well elsewhere.

In early 2007, Paparizou became the spokesperson of Nokia Greece, her previous sponsor, and released the song "Ola Ine Mousiki" in October 2007 for promotion. She also collaborated with retailer Plaisio and released a limited edition MP4 player called "MP4 Total Helena" (2GB) by Turbo-X, containing a special compilation and music videos,[64] being additionally released as "TH4" MP4 in 2008 to include her new album material and exclusive content.[65] She released a cover of Blind Melon's "3 Is a Magic Number" in Sweden as part of a television advertisement for a mobile phone company; it peaked at number 18,[66] while she also was featured on TV presenter Nikos Aliagas' song "I Zilia Monaksia", a cover of the Pascal Obispo hit "L'envie d'Aimer", for his album project Rendez-Vous. She also released the song "To Fili Tis Zois" for the soundtrack of the film of the same name, reaching number one for five weeks and becoming her most successful airplay single, as well as one of the most successful songs of the late 2000s.[67] It was nominated for four MAD VMAs, winning Best Pop Video, while she won Artist of the Year for "Mazi Sou", while "I Zilia Monaxia" also picked up a nomination, totaling six nominations in 2008.[68][69] The single was the first digital single to be certified Gold in Greece since the marketing trend became popular in 2006.

2008–09: Vrisko To Logo Na Zo
Paparizou receiving the platinum certification for Vrisko To Logo Na Zo.

Paparizou released her fourth album, Vrisko To Logo Na Zo on 12 June 2008.[70][71] The album generated four singles, "Porta Gia Ton Ourano", "I Kardia Sou Petra", "Pirotehnimata", and "Eisai I Foni". The music video of "Pirotehnimata" won Paparizou two awards at the sixth MAD Video Music Awards for Best Pop Video and Video of the Year and was nominated for Sexiest Video, while "I Kardia Sou Petra" won for Female Artist of the Year and "Porta Gia Ton Ourano" was nominated for Artist of the Year.[72][73] Paparizou promoted a more rock-inspired image for the album, which differed from her previous pop/laïko style. However, the album and its concept received mixed reviews.[74][75] The album was certified Gold in its first week,[76] eventually peaking at number one and being certified Platinum after three months[77] and becoming overall the second best-selling album of the year in both domestic and mixed domains;[78][79] in Cyprus it peaked at two and was certified Platinum.[80]

In June, Paparizou opened the MAD Video Music Awards 2008 with a remix of "Porta Gia Ton Ourano" with Madonna's 4 Minutes" and was featured in the performance of hip hop group Stavento of their hit "Mesa Sou"; both songs were released as digital downloads and promo singles in promotion of the album, while Paparizou's duet version of Spanish group Chambao's single "Papeles Mojados" received some play in Spanish clubs.[81] She then embarked on her To Party Arhizei tour, her first national tour, from 2 July to 19 September. The finale of the tour, set for Herakleion, Crete three days later, was cancelled due to whether conditions and Paparizou substituted the concert with two shows in October 2009 at the club Anadromes.[82] It grossed 192 thousand attendants over 29 locations, selling out the Thessaloniki venue.[83] Following the tour, the album was reissued as The Deluxe Edition in December and featured a video of the show titled Live in Concert, which was also available individually.[84] A further reissue of the album set to include Paparizou's newly recorded material (including the new single "Tha 'Mai Allios" and MAD Secret Concert tracks) was scheduled for the fall 2009, but this was shelved when the singer opted to record a new studio album for 2010.[85]
Paparizou performing "Katse Kala" at Thalassa: People's Stage on 12 September 2009.

Paparizou was featured on the Bonnier soundtrack project Alla Himlens Änglar, released in August, where she contributed her first Swedish-language songs: "Allt jag vill" (Everything I want) and "Genom krig och kärlek" (Through war and love). On 23 October 2008, she was one of the artists featured in a concert at the Siemens Arena in Vilnius, Lithuania that was attended by approximately 10 thousand people,[86][87] while from 30 October to 9 April she once again appeared alongside Paschalis Terzis at Iera Odos with Manos Pirovolakis as the opening act.[88] From 14 May to September, Paparizou was the main act at Thalassa: People's Stage, a concert-themed club stage, which had recently become more popular in Greece and was a first for the singer. 15.50 and Stavento served as supporting acts; after a brief intermission, the show was resumed with the latter being replaced with Loukas Giorkas.[89][90][91] Paparizou returned to the stage of MAD Secret Concerts on 26 May, the eighth edition of the series, featuring acts like 15.50, De Niro, Dimos Anastasiadis, Giorgos Sabanis, and Mironas Stratis,[92] with a video release titled MAD Secret Concert Vol.II being released in the fall. Paparizou went on hiatus in the winter season to spend time with her mother in Sweden and record her new album.[93] An English-language album had also been announced for 2009,[94][95] however, those plans did not materialize because of her father's sudden death, although three songs have been recorded, one of which is a tribute to him.[96]

2010–present: Giro Apo T' Oneiro, Greatest Hits & More, new management, and Dancing on Ice
Paparizou performing at the first date of the Fisika Mazi tour, on 29 June 2010 at Theatro Petras in Athens.

Paparizou's fifth studio album Giro Apo T' Oneiro was released on 29 March[97] and generated the singles "Tha 'Mai Allios", "An Isouna Agapi", "Psahno Tin Alitheia" and "Girna Me Sto Htes". The song "Tha 'Mai Allios", which was released a year before the album, served as the singer's first advertisement for soft-drink Ivi's[89][98][99] and won her an MTV Europe Award for Best Greek Act, placing her in the preliminary nominations of Best European Act, missing the official nominations by one spot by finishing sixth[100][101] The song's video also won the MAD Video Music Award for Video of the Year and was nominated for Best Pop Video, while "An Isouna Agapi" won the award for Sexiest Video and received nominations for Female Artist of the Year and Artist of the Year.[102] For its release, Paparizou embraced the new marketing trend of releasing new albums with Sunday newspapers, and did so with the 28 March edition of the nation-wide RealNews,[97] followed by a physical release the next day in standard and deluxe editions, the latter featuring video. 11 days following its release, it was announced that the album had achieved total shipments of 140 thousand units physically and via newspaper.[103][104] However, newspaper shipments are not taken into consideration by IFPI. In a radio interview in August 2010, Paparizou stated that the album had sold enough physical copies to be certified Platinum by IFPI.[105] On 6 November 2010, Paparizou was awarded platinum certification, with shipments of at least 12,000 units, for Giro Apo T' Oneiro by IFPI Greece at the grand opening of the new Metropolis music store at The Mall Athens.[106]
Paparizou performing with Antonis Remos at Diogenis Studio on 2 January 2011.

Paparizou and Onirama embarked on their joint Fisika Mazi Tour beginning on 30 June at Theatro Petras as part of the Stone Festival in Petroupoli.[107] A surprise inspection by the SDOE at the Kefalonia stop of the tour which found the production guilty of tax violations was the subject of controversy; it was revealed that eight thousand five hundred concert tickets were left unstamped and the contract fees of the performing artists had not been submitted. The singer claimed she did not have any knowledge of the occurrences and that she has no affiliation with the production group apart from as a performer.[108] She was one of eight artists who performed at the first MAD Fanatics concert, a tribute to Michael Jackson, closing the show with covers of "Heal the World" and "You Are Not Alone".[109] For the winter season Paparizou appears alongside Antonis Remos at Diogenis Studio, for which she reportedly is paid 10 thousand euros per night,[110] four thousand euros less than her previous season of performances.[111] Paparizou was featured on Albert Hammond's greatest hits album Legend on the tracks "Enredao" and its English-language counterpart "Tangled Up in Tears".

On 2 February 2011, Paparizou was one of eight acts of MAD TV's first charity fashion music show MADWalk, an equivalent to the international Fashion Rocks, where she represented fashion designer Apostolos Mitropoulos and performed her new single "Baby It's Over",[112][113] which was the lead single off of her first compilation album, the triple-disc Greatest Hits & More.[112][114][115] She also appeared at the Flight Night Club in Sofia, Bulgaria on 8 February.[116] "Baby It's Over" debuted atop the Billboard Greek Digital Singles Chart, becoming her fourth number one hit on that chart.[117] It also topped the Greek Airplay Chart for ten non-consecutive weeks, becoming the most successful single of her career and —as of the end of August— the most-played song of the year in Greece.[118][119]. The song won two awards at the 2011 MAD Video Music Awards for Female Artist of the Year and Fashion Icon of the Year[120] and was nominated for Artist of the Year, while she also received a fourth nomination for Best Pop Video for "Psahno Tin Alitheia".[121] The album's second single, "O,ti Niotho Den Allazi"(in english "Love ME Crazy") was released in May[122] and managed to peak at #5 at the official greek airplay chart. [123] The songs, particulary the lead single, received considerable exposure due to the implications of their lyrical content, causing speculation of the end of her 12-year relationship with Mavridis, which was ultimately proven true.[124][125] Greatest Hits & More was released on 23 May and debuted at number two on the Greek Albums Chart where it stayed for three weeks and was the best-selling domestic album of the week. It spent a total of 12 weeks on the chart and has yet to be certified, denoting less than six thousand copies shipped to retailers.[126] The album concluded her contractural obligations with Sony Music Greece. It has yet to be announced whether she plans to renew her contract or not.[127]
Paparizou performing her single "Baby It's Over" on the late-night show Vrady Me Ton Petro Kostopoulo on 7 April 2011.

Following the album's release, Paparizou went on hiatus from the entertainment industry for half a year to spend time in Sweden in order to recooperate from the break-up and spend time with family and childhood friends.[128][125] During an interview there in June she announced that Mavridis would no longer serve as her manager and that she had recruited a new team of Swedish collaborators.[129] Her only professional appearances were made at a four date tour in Cyprus.[130] Paparizou expressed that she would like to attempt new things in her career, expanding it outside of music and also revive her career in Sweden, which had entered obscurity after 2006.[131][130][132] A second English-language album and European tour have been tentatively announced, while she has also not ruled out a possible participation in Melodifestivalen, something she had turned down in the past.[132] She also explained that while her stay in Sweden was only for leisure, she might possibly decide to become a permanent resident of the country once again later on.[132] Regarding a professional collaboration with Mavridis in the future, she stated that ultimately it will be left up to her label.[131]

The fall season saw her collaborate with two of her musical idols. She recorded a duet of the nisiotiko classic "Dari Dari", originally performed by Yiannis Parios, with Nana Mouskouri for her duet album of Greek island folk songs, Tragoudia Apo Ta Ellinika Nisia (Songs from the Greek islands)[133] and —along with labelmate Natasa Theodoridou— is one of the Greek female artists scheduled to perform as a guest act at Mouskouri's concert at the Berlin Philharmonic in Germany on 29 Novemeber.[134] Although she had originally turned down offers to perform over the winter, it has also been reported that for the winter season 2011–12 she will perform as a supporting act for Parios in Thessaloniki at the club Pili Axiou from 18 November.[135] The collaboration between an artist like Paparizou with two artists generally considered amongst the most important in the Greek music industry has provoked reactions of a mixed nature and surprise.[136][135][137] Making her television debut, Paparizou will also serve as a judge on the first season of ANT1's Dancing on Ice alongside announcer, sports commentator, and television personality Alexis Kostalas and entertainment industry businessman and television presenter Petros Kostopoulos. The show, which pairs professional figure skaters with celebrities, will premiere on 6 November.[138] Paparizou stated that she has only ever figure skated freestyle but never choreographed[131] and admitted that her knowledge of the sport is fairly little[139] so her comments will be limited to the feeling exuded rather than technical criticisms.[140]

Musical style and performance


Paparizou has said that her parents had absolutely no musical background and the only person in her family who sang was her paternal grandmother. During her years in the village she would gather the people around the monasteries and sing hymns at weddings and baptisms, which inspired Paparizou to sing. While her first musical experiences were with international music, predominantly musicals, her musical roots are in traditional Greek music such as laiko and rebetiko as she was exposed to the music of Vassilis Tsitsanis, Markos Vamvakaris, Stelios Kazantzidis, Mimis Plaisas, and Giannis Spanos through her parents.[4] However, as a child, she considered these genres to be distant and old-fashioned and only associated them with her summer holidays in Greece.[6] In her teenage years, she began listening to a broad range of music including R&B and soul,[141] however, her biggest musical influences were female pop singers such as Madonna, Céline Dion, Tina Turner and Janet Jackson.[7] Later on, she also cited frequent collaborator Paschalis Terzis for teaching her to be a better vocalist on a technical level. Paparizou has also stated that she was a big fan of the Eurovision Song Contest for years before she first participated in 2001.

Music and themes
Paparizou performing in Lamia, Greece as part of her Arhizei To Party tour on August 28, 2008, where she performed a majority of material from Vrisko To Logo Na Zo.

During her solo career, Paparizou has transformed her musical style and image from laiko to pop to more rock-inspired styles on a whim,[44] however, some critics attribute this to a lack of personal style and following trends of the times in order for commercial success rather than it being a form of artistic expression.[142][143] Paparizou has also been known to follow the trends of international female pop stars of the time[142] with some comparissons having been made by music critics. Songs like "The Light in Our Soul" to Celine Dion's love-themed pop ballads and "Let's Get Wild" to Anastacia.[144]
Paparizou performing in Athens on 30 June 2010 on the Fysika Mazi tour with dancers.

Similar to Antique's work, all of Paparizou's albums have included a sizable amount of covers and translations. Following Antique's distinct style of blending traditional Greek music with Nordic disco sounds, with her debut solo album Protereotita, Paparizou focused on more pop sounds in addition to laiko and the songs were directed towards the club market; however, Giorgos Mastorakis of Music Corner stated that despite the image change, the album was not too different than what the public had become used to from Antique, being described as "pop moments (with keen laiko ... 'garnish')." In addition, the album contained many writers from both Greece and Sweden, which –according to Mastorakis– led to the album's sound to be varying. The more stylistically interesting songs from the album included the title track which followed a more R&B style, while the song "Katse Kala" was described as having an "original sound."[145]
Paparizou performing on the Fisika Mazi tour on 29 June 2010 in Athens, where she performed several songs from Giro Apo T' Oneiro.

Following her Eurovision win, Paparizou witnessed increased popularity and was often promoted more as a pop singer by the media. In his review of the Euro Edition of Protereotita, Pavlos Zervas of Music Corner was highly impressed with the album and believed that its contemporary style could potentially be an international hit, supporting the singer more so in English-language recordings; In his review of Iparhi Logos, Zervas even went as far as to say that apart from Sakis Rouvas, the nation's primary pop performer, Paparizou was the only artist supporting the pop/dance genre so well in Greece, adding that anything that she chose to sing at the moment would become a hit. He used Paparizou as an example that big name producers like Giorgos Theofanous and Phoebus are not needed to create hits. Material-wise, he maintained that the numerous covers were the album's strong point, while "Gigolo" was characterized by "witty" lyrics in an overall pattern that followed her hit "Mambo!" and previous hits.[146] Nevertheless, he considered that the laiko material on the album contradicted the pop ones and made her overall sound less focused.

Paparizou's first English-language album The Game of Love was anticipated amongst Greek consumers and featured a fairly similar sound to Iparhi Logos, with over half of the album's material being taken from the aforementioned album. Zervas also reviewed this album, saying that it contained many different styles such as dance, hip hop, slow jams and latin, following a typical recipe of American music. Zervas believed that international female pop singers did not have much above Paparizou, saying that the album's success would depend solely on promotion efforts, although internationally affiliated record companies were less impressed. Zervas' impression was that while he believed in the material's potential, he thought that if Paparizou continued her current trends and performance style at laiko nightclubs ambitions for an international career would come to a disappointment.[142]

For Vrisko To Logo Na Zo, her fourth album, Paparizou minimized the laiko influences and promoted a more pop/rock sound and image; in contrast with her first three albums that followed a similar approach of blending laiko and dance-pop songs. The overall album concept was given generally mixed reviews; Evianna Nikoleri of Music Corner commented that on its positive notes the album was carefully crafted and had a good European-like production. The rock elements of the album were thought to be minor, with some occasional guitar riffs, while she maintained that Paparizou was following the current trend of pop/laiko female singers promoting a rock image, something that she credited Despina Vandi for commencing;

For Giro Apo T' Oneiro, Paparizou worked with the same group she had two years prior with minimal changes. However, she toned down the image she had created with her previous album; while many of the songs still contained rock influences, she also re-embraced dance-pop and pop-folk, while to a lesser extent incorporated electronic and lounge, and set an overall pop theme for the album.[147][148]

While some critics have said that her material's lyrics have flow, they have also criticized them as being generic and trivial, focusing on typical love clichés; Nikoleri stated that while songs like "I Kardia Sou Petra", "Kita Brosta", "Pios" grab attention, not a single song escapes from the typical love themes of 'you left and I want you back,' 'I love you but I will get over you,' etc.," citing it as an area for improvement.[142] Paparizou has contributed a couple of tracks as a songwriter on all of her studio albums with the exception of Iparhi Logos (although she did write the lyrics of the Antique song "Why?" which was one of the album's live covers), with these writing ventures being nearly universally collaborations with at least one other songwriter. She has contributed lyrics to "Treli Kardia" (Protereotita), "Carpe Diem" and "Teardrops" (The Game of Love), and "Mathe Prota N'agapas" (Vrisko To Logo Na Zo), while on Vrisko To Logo Na Zo she made her first musical contributions on the afforementioned track and "Den Tha 'Mai 'Do" and later on "Filarakia" (Giro Apo T' Oneiro), which was also her first solo writing credit.[149]

Makis Kalamaris of Avopolis alleged that there were two types of artists: quality and commercial, labelling Paparizou as the latter, although he noted that she is an artist that some artists from the quality side have shown a liking for because despite her material's level, she defends it in the best possible way.[143]

Vocal style

Aris Kavatzikis of Close Up described Paparizou as having a "metallic voice."[150] Especially following the disbandment of Antique, Paparizou's voice was characterized as possessing a "deep, sensual" tone.[151] Paparizou possesses a mezzo-soprano vocal range; from her Antique years up until 2005, she performed in a vocal range of C4 to B♭6.[152] Critics have continuously argued over whether laïko or pop material best suits the artist vocally, usually coming to completely opposite conclusions, especially when country of origin varies. Both Giorgos Mastorakis and Pavlos Zervas of Music Corner maintained that she was capable in both,[145][146] with Zervas being more adament about her limiting her performances to the dance-pop genre in support of her post-Eurovision image, adding that in her live cover of "Just Walk Away" she used her vocal abilities in their entirety.[146] Zervas also supported her more in English-language recordings, mostly because of her non-Greek accent.[153][146] Makis Kalamaris of Avopolis also felt similarly about these points and dismissed her pop-rock attempts.[154] In contrast, Swedish critic Dan Backman of Svenska Dagbladet felt that Paparizou was no exception to the rule that musical artists sound better in their native language, describing her vocal performances as "expressive" in Greek and "bland" in English. He also consistently selected her pure laïko songs, such as "Stin Kardia Mou Mono Thlipsi", "I Zoi Sou Zari", M'angaliazei To Skotadi", and "O,ti Axizi Ine I Stigmes" as being best suited to her voice rather than her contemporary or hybrid material, suggesting her voice may possess "the right dramatic nerve" for the style.[155][156]

Reception to Paparizou's vocals has been mixed. Some critics have felt that they are at least sufficient,[145][156] with Kalamaris describing her albilities as "not insignificant".[154] Alternately, others have felt that her vocals are technically unskilled and have in particular criticized her live vocal performances.[49] In general her vocals have been viewed as one of her weaker points of appeal.[157] Nitro was skeptical of Paparizou's musical abilities overall, saying that if the world was a fair place, it would be widely acknowledged that she "has simply a pretty face, while the voice behind that belongs to a less pretty singer."[158] Others have also been under the opinion that she does not sell primarily based on her voice, but rather on her public image and styling.[49][6] Zervas opined favourably of her vocals, writing that on the Euro Edition EP, Paparizou's voice seemed "adaptable" and "pliable" to the details of each of the album's songs, from the ballads to the uptempo ones.[153] Critic Georgia Laimou of Eleftheros Typos, however, highly disagreed with this statement. She noticed that since her Eurovision win, Paparizou sang with more force and a new-found confidence but also found that she has a tendency to "yell" her notes. Through hearing the artist sing her own songs as well as covers, she found that Paparizou sings all genres and styles of songs in the exact same, monotonous voice and has a very limited vocal range, apparently possessing only one comfortable key, overall being unimpressed by her live performance.[49] In 2008, Evianna Nikoleri noticed an improvement in Paparizou's voice, suggesting that Vrisko To Logo Na Zo contained her best vocal performance on an album.[142] However, as the difficulty level of the songs progressed, the more Paparizou's excessive yelling became noticable, as a result of trying to to prove her volume and push her range to reach high notes, being panned by critics on songs such as "Eisai I Foni" and "Den Tha 'Mai 'Do".[142][143] Nikoleri stated that she felt that Paparizou, like most laïko-pop female singers, believed that singing loudly was synonymous with singing well or possessing a naturally big voice and compared her to Despina Vandi, who she credited with starting the trend.[142] Nevertheless, Makis Kalamaris, who believed the album to be quite mediocre, saying it was based mostly on "beatless rock scratches and mellow ballads", said that Paparizou saved most of the material just with her lively delivery of it.[143] He felt similarly about Giro Apo T' Oneiro, whose material he also found lackluster.[154]

In addition to often losing her breath onstage due to her asthma, for which she has to carry an inhaler,[6] Paparizou is also a cigarette smoker, having started some time during childhood,[159][160] an action which can provide damage to one's vocal chords. In Greece, it is often common for certain television programs or events to be lip-synced, often due to technical restrictions and these are made known to the public. Some programs offer the option of performing live, although Paparizou has almost always chosen the lip-sync option, even in performances where there is no choreography to complicate the execution,[161][162] with the exception of some more low-key performances where she has sung along with a piano.[163] However, on several occasions since serving as a frontwoman for Antique, the singer has been criticized for using a full playback track during "live" stage performances, such as at clubs or concerts, something that a lot of Greek singers are known to do but is less socially acceptable.[49][5]
[edit] Image
[edit] Fashion and style
Elena Paparizou performing in Kalamata as part of her Arhizei To Party tour in 2008.

During her career as Antique, Paparizou was known to have a simplistic look with a lack of styling, representing a young girl; she made a transition into a more feminine and sexualized style after going solo.[44] Paparizou was known for a revealing style of dress, which was a contrast from her "good girl" image.[12] She made hot pants her signature look, showcasing her legs as her most prominent physical feature,[164] and was also known to wear mini-dresses and five-inch high heels.[6] In promotion of the album Vrisko To Logo Na Zo, Paparizou promoted a more rock-inspired image than she had previously been associated with, appearing more aggressive in dark tones in both wardrobe and make-up.[165] The look was completed with multiple new piercings, including her ear cartilage, tongue, and most notably, her nostril, wearing a wire chain to connect it to her ear piercing. Evianna Nikoleri maintained that Paparizou was following the current trend of pop/laiko female singers promoting a rock image, something that she credited Despina Vandi for commencing. Makis Kalamaris of Avopolis also agreed that this new image was more so for mainstream success rather than artistic expression, but added that Paparizou, knowing her limitations, was slowly easing into it rather than suddenly presenting this rock persona, adding that she was probably the only case of a Greek female singer being able to imitate trends of international females without singing in skiladiko clubs and at the same time cloning herself into Madonna, which made her stand out against the current mainstream scene.[166] Paparizou's make-up artist Giannis Marketakis has stated that while their relationship began strictly professionally, they have since become like siblings, further saying that Paparizou always gives input on her look and fashion, and follows fashion trends closely.[165] Despite this, Paparizou has said that she avoids extremeties in her fashion choices.[150] In The Game of Love, Paparizou gives credit to Al Giga, her stylist, for making her love fashion and herself, while she also acknowledges Roberto Cavalli —who has provided the majority of her wardrobe since Eurovision 2005— for his input.[167]

Public image
Paparizou poses with fans at the launch of Ivi Fruitea, one of her biggest promotional campaigns, at the Hard Rock Café in Athens on 29 April 2010.

On 14 March 2010, Alpha TV ranked Paparizou as the 14th top-certified female artist in the nation's 50-year phonographic industry, on a list titled the "30 Most Popular Greek Female Singers of the Past 50 Years," with certifications totalling seven Platinum and four Gold records. This made Paparizou the youngest artist on the list, the only artist under the age of 30, as well as the only artist to emerge in the 2000s (in her solo career).[44]a In 2010, Forbes listed her as the 21st most powerful and influential celebrity in Greece, and the fourth highest ranked singer.[168] She is regarded as the most successful female pop singer of the second half of the 2000s.[169] While in years previous to this a supposed rivalry between Anna Vissi and Despina Vandi received heavy media attention and competition as to which artist would ultimately come out on top, Paparizou essentially replaced the two musicians as the top contemporary female artist in their absences during the latter half of the decade.[170] In reviewing her comeback album, Apagorevmeno (2008) after three years since her last release, Haris Simvoulidis of Avopolis alleged that Vissi gave the impression of trying to catch up to her contemporaries, Paparizou and Peggy Zina, who were the most culturally relevant female acts of that era.[171] However, by the end of the decade her popularity was in decline as was most of the laïko-pop scene and image-based singers,[172] partially due to hardships faced by the Greek music industry including piracy, the financial crisis,[173] and changing musical tastes.[174]
Paparizou in Swedish Magazine Café in 2003.

Paparizou established a public image described as that of the "Greek every-girl" or the "girl next door," making her an icon for teenage girls,[107][150][175] while her songs have become a staple for young people during auditions at reality music shows such as Greek Idol[176] as well as having inspired younger artists such as Idol runner-up Nicole Paparistodimou. Paparizou became known for the way she approached the media; she has been known to apologize in her interviews, laugh throughout, and "embodies the good girl and not the femme fatale, she wants to be likeable" and projects a "child-woman" rather than a diva, thus staying family-friendly.[12] However, she has also spoken candidly to reporters about issues concerning her personal life, plastic surgery, and weight.[6] She has also been referred to as an anti-star,[150] while Ivi reportedly selected her to be the face of their "Fersou Fisika" (act natural) campaign for representing all of the corresponding qualities, such as freshness, naturalness, authenticity, good will, and humour.[177] A biography of the artist on Alpha TV's Kafes Me Tin Eleni stated that Paparizou's appeal was not due to her voice, her songs, nor her body, but rather that she represents the qualities and limitations of the average person.[6] Paparizou has said that she likes to present herself in moderation;[150] she herself ranked her star power as moderate in the Greek star system, the level she finds appropriate for artists, adding that she believed that her public image would never be able to overcome that of the girl next door in the eyes of the Greek public.[150] However, E! Entertainment Television also described her as "sultry," ranking her at number 16 on their 25 Sexiest Women and 25 Sexiest Pop Divas of 2008,[178] making her one of only two Greek celebrities —along with Kostas Martakis— to ever be featured on one of the network's lists. In 2009, she admitted to having undergone breast augmentation at the age of 26 after wishing to do so since she was 18.[150] This made her the first Greek female celebrity to admit having undergone the afforementioned procedure, something which was reviewed positively by some media personalities.[179] Paparizou also performed as the main act at the artistic portion of the Athens Pride 2010, supporting LGBT people of Greece.[180] She has had promotional deals with Skechers, Nokia Greece, Organics Hair Care, and Ivi, and through record label association has promoted Sony Ericsson (both Greece and Sweden), TIM Hellas, Vivodi, and Coca-Cola.

In 2008, Paparizou, who was known for her slim figure, was scrutinized for her weight gain during the 2007–08 season when she took a break from performing. Paparizou openly stated that she had gained 10 kg (22 lbs), however she had already lost 7 (15) of them.[181] She had previously stated that she gains at least that amount every time she goes on break, adding that it would have been possible for her to gain up to 15 kg (33 lbs).[182] As she had first stated in 2006, she was dissatisfied with discriminative ideals towards both men and women and threatened to put on weight the following year.[182][183] This was followed by another weight gain in 2009; her new image distanced her from the one she became known with circa Eurovision 2005.[184] As the media became more concerned with her weight Paparizou expressed her disapproval of this, stating "I am a singer, not a model."[185] In her 2010 video shoots it was reported that Paparizou asked only for close-up shots due to this issue.[186] Paparizou had also faced scrutiny for her weight on another occasion during the Eurovision 2001 era where media made claims of her having anorexia nervosa; Paparizou admitted that for her appearance in the contest she had lost too much weight and had dropped down to 51 kg.[187]

Personal life

Paparizou at one point during her youth followed Buddhism, but eventually began following the Greek Orthodox religion once again as she believes it suits her better.[31] She has been involved in a long term relationship with fellow Swedish-born Greek Toni Mavridis,[188] whom she was introduced to as a musician by a friend of her sister's at a restaurant called Mykonos when she was only 17, while Mavridis is 11 years her senior.[5][8] Mavridis became an impresario for Antique and has written songs on all of Paparizou's solo albums, while he also serves as her manager. Mavridis had approached Paparizou for only one month before their relationship commenced and she left her parents' home to live with him in Stockholm. The two had a traditional Greek engagement celebration with their relatives on December 24, 2000 and have been engaged since;[5] however, Paparizou has said that Mavridis has never officially proposed to her and that she would prefer that he do this in the Western tradition of going down on one knee.[189] Paparizou's lack of fluency in the Greek language was often a subject of the media,[12] although she began to improve it following her Eurovision win,[7] having bought a home with Mavridis in the Athens suburb of Glyfada in 2006.[8][190] Mavridis has suggested the idea of the two getting married in Las Vegas, Nevada,[191] while Paparizou has also already chosen a koumbara, her good friend Roxani.[8] On many occasions, Paparizou has commented on starting a family with Mavridis; in Celebrity, Paparizou was quoted as saying "I believe that family is the most natural thing, the thing I want in my life. And what is my preference? To not have kids so I can continue my career? One day it will end. I cannot be on stage everyday, like I am now at 25,"[192] while in Nitro she said "No [Mavridis is not my first relationship], but I think he is my last. He is the person I want to have kids with. I think he is the best father they could have. If I don't have kids with him, then I will adopt."[8] In the August 2010 issue of Life & Style, Paparizou revealed that she would like to have a child within the next year to two years.[193] In 2011 Paparizou took a break from the Greek music scene and returned to Sweden alone. It was reported that she and Mavridis had been separated for nearly three months and were in the process of splitting their shared wealth and placing their Glyfada home for sale.[128] On 29 June 2011, Mavridis confirmed that they had ended their relationship after 12 years together.[125]

Paparizou's father died suddenly on 25 December 2008 of a heart attack during the family's Christmas Day celebrations.[3] Paparizou stopped her performances at Iera Odos to be with family in Sweden before resuming her show. She later stated her belief that her father would have lived had the ambulance been prompt, blaming medical incompetency.[31] She has been suffering from depression since, citing it as the second occurrence since she was a teenager.[96]

Main article: Elena Paparizou discography
See also: Antique (duo)#Discography

Protereotita (2004)
Iparhi Logos (2006)
The Game of Love (2006)
Vrisko To Logo Na Zo (2008)
Giro Apo T' Oneiro (2010)

Concert tours


"My Number One" Eurovision Promo Tour (2005)
Eurovision Winner's Tour (2005)
To Party Arhizei (2008)


North American and Australian Tour (with Nikos Kourkoulis) (2005)
Fisika Mazi (with Onirama) (2010)

Resident shows

Main act

Fever (with Giorgos Tsalikis and Christos Pazis) (2005–06)
Iera Odos (with Paschalis Terzis and Nino) (2006–07)
Odeon (with Paschalis Terzis and Nino) (2007)
Iera Odos (with Paschalis Terzis and Manos Pirovolakis) (2008–09)
Thalassa: People's Stage (with Stavento and 15:50, Pt.2: Loukas Giorkas and 15:50) (2009)
Diogenis Studio (with Antonis Remos) (2010–11)

Opening act

Studio Piraios (opening act for Antonis Remos and Giannis Spanos) (2003–04)
Fever (opening act for Sakis Rouvas and Giorgos Mazonakis) (2004–05)
Thalassa (with Apostolia Zoi, Nino, and Thanos Petrelis) (2004)

Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Elena Paparizou

See also

List of Greeks
List of Swedes


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