The name is an abstract form of Maria Magdalena, Mahulena and Magdalena.
As of 2009, Malena was the 19th most popular female name in Argentina. Its popularity in Argentina may be due to a famous tango song, Malena, by Homero Manzi and Lucio Demarre.
In the former Yugoslavia, it is the name of a title song by Videosex and Idoli.
Recently the name was brought to the public attention by the 2000 academy award winning Italian film starring Monica Belucci.
The name is borne by Swedish pop star, Malena Ernman (b.1970).
Another form is the Danish and Norwegian, Malene.