The History of 'Mahna Mahna': From a Swedish Sex Film Soundtrack to the Muppets and Beyond!

mahna_mahna.jpg

Mahna mahna...

You couldn't help yourself, could you? It's alright. It's almost impossible to hear someone say (or in this case, read) the words "mahna mahna" and not follow it up with a "doo doo doo-doo-doo."

This childhood classic was recently re-imagined for the upcoming album Muppets: The Green Album (out August 24th), but the song existed long before the Muppets got get their tiny felt hands on it.

After the jump, learn more about the history of "Mahna Mahna"... doo doo doo-doo-doo.
While many of us are probably most familiar with the "Mahna Mahna" that debuted on the premiere episode of The Muppet Show in 1976, that version was actually just a cover of a tune that had been recorded eight years prior by Italian film score composer Piero Umiliani.

Originally titled "Mah Nà Mah Nà," the song appeared on the soundtrack of the Italian film Sweden: Heaven and Hell (Svezia, Inferno E Paradiso). The film is a pseudo-documentary (now known as "reality television") about the wild sex lives of folks living in Sweden; the track was used in a scene that takes place in a sauna.

That's right, "Mahna Mahna" has its roots in the same place we all have our roots: deep in naked debauchery. Awww, yeah.

The lead vocals were sung by Italian singer/composer Alessandro Alessandroni. Here's the original Umiliani version:



One year later, in the 1969 debut year of Sesame Street, Jim Henson tried the song out for the first time with a trio of Anything Muppet kids on the show's fourteenth episode. Jim sang lead vocals for the (bearded) male child character.



On November 30th of that same year, Henson tried the bit out again on The Ed Sullivan Show. Unlike the Sesame Street version with the kid Anything Muppets, the characters we all now associate with the song make their debut: Mahna Mahna (the beardy lead singer) and pink alien-like creatures known as the Snouths (a blend of "snout" and "mouth"), though they are sometimes mistakenly referred to as Snowths.



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11 comments
Classifieds
Classifieds

Thank you! An amusing historical note. But for me it does not matter where this song was first performed, for me it is associated exclusively with the Muppet show, children's song. And when I want to entertain my daughter, I'll still sing mahna mahna doo doo doo-doo-doo 

Nhorman
Nhorman

Don't forget Benny Hill.  He used this song as cover for about half of his dialogue-less skits

Bill T.
Bill T.

Hence, the statement "Throughout the seventies and eighties, the song appeared on the British television comedy The Benny Hill Show; ..." in the story.  Ahem.

Garance A Drosehn
Garance A Drosehn

I believe Red Skeleton also used this song for a few skits.

(I'm pretty sure that's where I heard it the first time, and I kind of remember a skit which was little moon men doing something with the Apollo moon lander)

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