Greek pop diva Elena Paparizou rocketed to global fame in 2005 when her "My Number One" claimed top honors in the annual Eurovision Song Contest.
Born January 31, 1982, in Västergötland, Sweden, to Greek immigrant parents, Paparizou -- whose first name is often spelled "Helena" in international markets -- was raised in Gothenburg, where as a child she studied singing as well as dancing and acting. At 17, she teamed with fellow Greek-Swede Nikos Panagiotidis to form the dance-pop duo Antique. Their debut single, a cover of Notis Sfakianakis' "Opa-Opa," emerged as a breakout hit, entering the Top Ten across Scandinavia and becoming the first act to climb into the Swedish Top Five with a record sung in Greek. The follow-up, "Dinata Dinata," was also a smash, and Antique subsequently scored with the singles "Follow Me" and "Moro Mou." In 2001, the duo also represented Greece at the Eurovision Song Contest with the song "(I Would) Die for You," capturing third place behind Estonia and host nation Denmark.
Despite Antique's continued success, Paparizou split from Panagiotidis in 2003 to mount a solo career, signing with Sony/BMG and at year's end issuing her debut single, "Anapantites Klisis." The full-length Protereotita followed in early 2004, launching a string of hits including "Antithesis," "Anamnisis," "Katse Kala," and "Stin Kardia Mou Mono Thlipsi" and going double platinum in Greece. Thanks to her growing popularity in her family's homeland, Paparizou was a natural choice to represent Greece in the 2005 Eurovision competition, and with "My Number One" was crowned the country's first-ever winner in the event. A re-released Protereotita including the song quickly hit retail, and she spent the second half of the year on tour, headlining concerts in Australia and North America. The follow-up single "Mambo!" also spent ten consecutive weeks atop the Greek charts, and in the spring of 2006 Paparizou finally issued her sophomore album, the number one smash Yparhi Logos. At year's end she also released her first international LP, The Game of Love, containing six English-language versions of songs first issued via Yparhi Logos as well as half a dozen originals. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi