MINA. In 1961, a lovely ballad by the Italian singer Mina called "Il cielo in una stanza" scraped the bottom of the Billboard Hot 100 for exactly one week at #90, whereupon Mina disappeared from America forever. So what? Why should anyone care? Because Mina happens to have been one of the greatest singers of the 1960s, that's why. She combined the best vocal qualities of Lesley Gore, Dusty Springfield, Petula Clark and Barbra Streisand - only Mina was cooler, she was sexier, and she was a bad, bad girl. Unfortunately, the English language was an obstacle she could never quite overcome (unlike Rita Pavone), so the U.S. missed out on Mina, even though she was singing in pure pop.
In 1959, the sneering Italian press labeled 19-year-old Mina Mazzini the queen of the "screamers" (i.e., rock 'n' roll singers), but they couldn't ignore her overnight success in music, TV and movies. Her first recordings were clumsy imitations of U.S. records, but she eventually revealed that she was a true rock chick extraordinaire: check out "Pij di te" (1965), her stompin' cover of Tracy Dey's "I Won't Tell," or "Ta-ra-ta-ta" (1966), an exhilarating transformation of Bernadette Carroll's "Try Your Luck," or "No" (1966), an electric-12-string collision between James Bond and "Ticket to Ride."
(click the link to continue reading Neal McCabe's article at the Catalog of Cool)