Born on January 19, 1966, in Vetlanda, Sweden, Philipsson first came to public attention on TV talent show New Faces in 1982. She released her first single, "Boy" b/w "You Open My Eyes," in 1984, but her career really kicked off two years later when she entered Melodifestivalen, the Swedish qualifier for the Eurovision Song Contest and the most watched show on Swedish television. Her entry, "Kärleken Är Evig," written by Per Gessle and Torgny Söderberg, finished in second place with 42 points, and reached number three on the Swedish singles chart. Her debut album, also titled Kärleken Är Evig, was a Top 20 hit. She competed again in Melodifestivalen the following year with "Dansa I Neon." This time she came in fifth place, and the song was another big hit, and is considered one of her signature songs. It has been sampled by several Swedish artists, including Philipsson herself on her 2004 hit, "Lena Anthem."
In 1988 she competed in Melodifestivalen yet again with the ballad "Om Igen," which finished in second place and again became a Top Ten hit. The album Talking in Your Sleep, which mixed English and Swedish-language songs, became her first Top Ten album. Released in 1989, My Name was her first album to be recorded entirely in English, and became her most successful release to that point, going double platinum with over 120,000 copies sold. This was followed by A Woman's Gotta Do What a Woman's Gotta Do, a James Bond-inspired concept album about a fictional secret agent. It was the first album for which Philipsson contributed songwriting to every track, and was another big hit. However, her popularity took a significant dip in the '90s, and following the commercial failure of 1997's Basta Vanna, she retired from active recording for seven years.
In 2004 she made her first entry into the Melodifestivalen as a singer since 1988. With her career widely considered to be over, she had a great deal to prove. The contest had also changed significantly since her previous entries; it now featured a semifinal stage and was much more competitive. However, Philipsson's entry, "Det Gör Ont," was instantly hailed as a classic, and with the help of a now legendary performance in which she straddled her microphone stand in the style of Steve Tyler of Aerosmith, she sailed into the finals and won the contest with 232 points. An English recording of the song, "It Hurts," was then taken to the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest in Turkey, where she finished in fifth place. "Det Gör Ont" became a massive hit in Sweden, topping the charts for seven weeks and spending 37 weeks on the Top 50. "It Hurts" also reached the Top Five independently, despite being essentially the same song.
The album Det Gör Ont En Stund På Natten Men Inget På Dan went gold (30,000 copies sold) in just nine days, and spent 51 weeks on the Swedish charts, ultimately going double platinum and giving her the best run of hits of her career. Further singles "Lena Anthem" and "Delirium" both made the Top Ten, with "På Gatan Där Jag Bor" also reaching the Top Thirty. In 2005 Philipsson released her tenth studio album, Jag Ångrar Ingenting, which topped the Swedish charts and quickly went platinum, yielding two more Top Ten singles with "Unga Pojkar & Äldre Män" and "Han Jobbar I Affär." In 2006 Lena 20 År , a compilation spanning 20 years of active recording, was released. ~ John Lucas, Rovi