‘Mah Na Mah Na’ – from Piero Umaliani to the Muppets and Cake

Many of us know the song “Mah Na Mah Na” (yes, that’s it’s official title) from the Muppets. But as Margot demonstrated during today’s episode of her feature segment Bring to a Boil and Cover, the Muppets version of the song was not the first. Nor was it the last. 

The song was originally written and recorded by Italian composer Piero Umaliani, who included the song in his soundtrack to the 1968 Italian ‘mondo’ film Sweden: Heaven and Hell

The song was then picked up by The Red Skelton Show, and then by Sesame Street, where the Muppets first performed it in 1969. It also performed by the Muppets on The Ed Sullivan Show, and when The Muppet Show debuted in 1976, the song was included in the first episode. 

The Ed Sullivan appearance was the first to feature the characters eventually featured on The Muppet Show: Mahna Mahna and the Snowths. 

The list of artists who have covered “Mah Na Mah Na” is long, from Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops to Hot Butter (the Moog group responsible for the 1970s hit song “Popcorn”), disco group Lipstique, and even heavy metal band Skin. 

In 2002, the band Cake released an updated version that was included on the compilation album For the Kids.


Listen to Bring to a Boil and Cover every weekday at 2pm MST.