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The Story Behind the Muppets Tune “Mahna Mahna”

Posted 6 years ago by Music

The character known as 'Mahna Mahna' and two Slouths

Slate has a great article on the origin of the Muppets’ song “Mahna Mahna.” The second most interesting bit I gleaned was that it wasn’t an original tune by the Muppets troupe. It’s so iconic and muppetesque that it’s hard to imagine it having a very non-Muppets beginning.

Yes, that’s the most shocking revelation from this story. The ditty was by Italian composer Piero Umiliani. Surprising given its Muppet notoriety, it was written for the 1968 documentary “Sweden: Heaven and Hell.” The film chronicled sexuality in the Scandinavian country for Italian audiences.

You read that right. The song made famous by those cute and cuddly Muppets had its origin in a soft-core porn movie.

The song, originally released as “Mah Nà Mah Nà”, was featured on the film’s soundtrack. The single was a minor hit and reached #55 on the U.S. charts in ’68. “Mahna Mahna” then began its second life when it appeared in a “Sesame Street” sketch during the first season of the children’s TV show. Later that same year, the Muppets performed the song on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” The catchy tune was reprised for the very first episode of “The Muppet Show” in 1976. See the video below. The Muppet hit even appears in the new film.

For more on this fascinating bit of Muppets trivia, head over to the Slate article. They also have videos of the song from (gasp!) the original movie.