"I love Charles Aznavour," she said. "He's a French writer and an actor, and he writes songs that are like little movies."
Her favorite is "You've Let Yourself Go," a song that tells a story about a married couple, that, in her mind, perfectly illustrates the relationship between husband and wife. The imagery is so vivid for her that she has even come up with her an idea for a music video for the song.
"I would have the back of a chair — an armchair — and see a man's arm with a can of beer and at the very end — he's fallen asleep watching boxing," she described. "And it's a moment in time. It's right at the moment."
Seeing Aznavour perform live brought this storytelling to a new level for Minnelli.
"He came onto the stage and every song was an acting moment. Every song he grabbed you and he took you with him," said Minnelli. "It was amazing, and I thought, that's what I want to do."
Minnelli keeps up with more recent current chart toppers and lists Pink, Fall Out Boy and Maroon 5 among her favorites. One song that stands out is the first song she heard by Maroon 5, "This Love."
"It carried me," she said. "I thought, this guy's got jazz and he's put it into rock in his own way. So original. I like everything about it."
Some of the songs Minnelli likes best are those that were written particularly for her.
"Kander and Ebb wrote everything I sing," laughed Minnelli. "And I sing everything they wrote."
Those include some of her most popular songs, such as "New York, New York," "The World Goes 'Round" and one of her favorites, "Maybe This Time."
"They're wonderful songs, and Fred Ebb had a way of talking in his lyrics that made me understand exactly — the best way to express a thought, a feeling," Minnelli said.
But the lyrics are only half of the story.
"Melody-wise, how could you beat a melody like 'Maybe This Time?' The way it builds -- it's just so thrilling to think that was written for me."
"He's Funny That Way" BILLIE HOLIDAY
"I Can't Make You Love Me" BONNIE RAITT
"You've Let Yourself Go" CHARLES AZNAVOUR
"This Love" MAROON 5
"Maybe This Time" KANDER & EBB