Wednesday, December 02, 2009


From Wikipedia...

Mah Nà Mah Nà

"Mah Nà Mah Nà" is a popular song written by Piero Umiliani. It originally appeared in the Italian film Sweden: Heaven and Hell, but is best known in English-speaking countries from its use in the first episode of The Muppet Show.

Debut version

"Mah Nà Mah Nà" debuted as part of Umiliani's soundtrack for the Italian mondo film Svezia, inferno e paradiso (Sweden: Heaven and Hell) (1968), a pseudo-documentary about wild sexual activity and other behavior in Sweden. The song accompanied a scene in the film set in a sauna. The lead part was sung by Italian singer/composer Alessandro Alessandroni.[1] The song also appeared on the 1968 soundtrack album released for the film.

"Mah Nà Mah Nà" was a hit in many countries in 1968–1969. In the U.S. it peaked at #55 in the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and #44 on the Cash Box magazine chart in October 1969.

The song's lyrics contain no actual words, only nonsense (iambic) syllables resembling scat singing. The original version interpolates melodies from "Swedish Rhapsody" (Midsummer Vigil) by Hugo Alfvén, "Santa Lucia", "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy", the jazz standard "Lullaby of Birdland", and others.

Other early versions

In 1969, Henri Salvador recorded a variation titled "Mais Non, Mais Non" ("But No, But No" or "Of Course Not, Of Course Not"), with lyrics he had written in French to Umiliani's tune.

The song became familiar to many from its renditions by the Muppets on television. On 30 November, 1969, "Mahna Mahna" was performed on the The Ed Sullivan Show by a Muppet also known as Mahna Mahna, and the Snowths. Also in 1969, "Mahna Mahna" was performed on Sesame Street by a character that was later known as Bip Bipadotta, along with two Anything Muppet girls.

During its 1969-70 season, "The Red Skelton Show" used the Umiliani recording as background music for a recurring blackout sketch. The otherwise silent bits featured Red and another performer, dressed as Moon creatures, playing with equipment left behind by the Project Apollo astronauts.

In 1973, a rendition of "Mah Nà Mah Nà" on the Moog synthesizer was released on the album More Hot Butter (Musicor MS 3254) by Hot Butter, best known for the pop tune "Popcorn". It was re-released on CD in 2000.

More recently, the musical group Cake recorded a horn-driven version of this song featuring many different sounds. This version was recorded as a children's song.

The British pop group Vanilla also used the song as a basis for their first single "No Way, No Way" in 1997.

A thrash metal version was recorded by Skin in 1996.

Versions by the Muppets

In 1969, the first season of Sesame Street featured a sketch featuring two muppet girls who are unsure of what to do, until they decide to sing a song, enter an unusual-looking version of the latter Muppet character Mahna Mahna (whose named was later changed to Bip Bippadotta, so as to differentiate him from the Mahna Mahna character on The Muppet Show) who begins singing "Mahna Mahna", prompting the girls to join him.

In 1976, the first episode of The Muppet Show to be recorded (featuring Juliet Prowse), used "Mahna Mahna" as the first sketch. It was performed by the Muppets "Mahna Mahna and the Snowths". As a result, the original Piero Umiliani recording finally became a hit in the UK (#8 in the UK charts in May 1977), where the Muppet Show soundtrack album featuring the Muppets' version went to number one.

A snippet of the song "Lullaby of Birdland" is 'hummed' during one of the improvisational passages.

The Muppets' comeback series Muppets Tonight (1996–1998) revisited it as a parody using the word "phenomenon" in place of the title, a reference to the film of the same name that had recently been released. Kermit the Frog and actress Sandra Bullock appeared in place of "Mahna Mahna" to provide the lyric "phenomena".

On November 23, 2009, Bip Bippadotta and The Snowths appeared in the video for the Muppets' cover of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody.

Commercially licensed versions

In the 1990s in the UK, a variation of "Mah Nà Mah Nà" was used as part of an advertising campaign for the BN Biscuit.

In the early 2000s, Scottish based drink Irn Bru used the song with the words "phenomenal" to replace 'Mah Na Ma Nah'. As a result the song became very popular in popular culture at that time.

Brazil's Pato Fu used the song's melody in the chorus of their 1999 hit "Made in Japan"

The sunscreen brand Banana Boat filmed a TV advertisement for the Australian market, using the song with new words. The words are sung by a boy toddler on the beach, dubbing "baby talk" on a mixture of animation and live action.

In the first episode of the second series of the U.K. version of The Office, Gareth Keenan and David Brent sing the song at the beginning of the episode.

The song is played as background music in the German film Summer Storm (2004), and is listed in the ending credits.

The band That Handsome Devil samples the song heavily in their 2007 song "Hey White Boy".

The Muppets filmed a new version of the song in 2005, for a New Zealand charity called CanTeen. In the ad, an updated version of the Mahna Mahna puppet was performed by Bill Barretta, and the lyrics were changed to "Bandanana", supporting CanTeen's "Bandana Week".

The electro house artists Finger & Kadel also heavily sampled the song in their 2009 track "Mana Mana".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There's also a song from brazilian pop band Pato Fu that takes from Ma Nah Ma Nah. It's called "Made in Japan".