I’m still thinking about Mina’s popularity outside of Italy in the 1960s and have been looking more closely at the ways in which she was marketed in West Germany. She was labelled a Schalger singer and with that appears to have come a certain ‘look’ on single covers: here are some of Mina’s covers alongside those of two more popular Schlager singers of the same period, Caterina Valente and Margot Eskens:
Although born in Italy, Valente made her career in Germany before becoming famous across Europe and then singing in Italian and English. Eskens is a highly successful Schlager singer, with most of her success coming in the 1950s and 1960s. She was signed by Polydor Records in the 1950s, and this fact may explain some of similarities in the ways in which she and Mina are presented on single covers: Mina’s German language releases were also with Polydor Records in this period.
Yet the similarities I would argue go much beyond this fact. There is in fact an apparent trope at work here that presents female Schlager singers in a certain way: they are elegant, sophisticated, demure, attractive (but not sexy), modern yet traditional. They were performers of a genre that ‘came to denote conservative, obsolete, orthodoxy with regard to musical taste and social/cultural behavio[u]rs’ (Larkey 4) and that was arguably an example of popular music that was in opposition to ‘the emerging hegemony of the United States, the political and military leader of the Western world whose culture industry challenged the weakened German cultural elite with a powerful combination of unbridled and unrepentant commercialism, populism, and consumerism’ (Larkey 1).
Larkey, Edward. “Just for fun? Language choice in German popular music.” Popular Music and Society, vol. 24, no. 3, 2000, pp. 1-20.