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Grover version

Anyone have it? [1]Scott (talk) 07:24, December 8, 2009 (UTC)

It's from Play With Me Sesame and it just has Grover and Prairie singing the song in front of a video of the original 1969 version. I have it on tape somewhere. - Oscarfan 11:35, December 8, 2009 (UTC)
A screenshot would be great! —Scott (talk) 05:20, December 9, 2009 (UTC)

Miscellaneous Questions

I didn't want to speculate, but can anyone confirm that the Goldie Hawn Muppet performed the "Mahna Mahna" part and that the two Dripsnout Frackles were the back-up singers? Also, were these characters voiced by the Muppeteers during the number on Pure Goldie or were the voices provided by the celebrities?

Also, were the Anything Muppet girls in the Sesame Street version also performed by Frank Oz? -- User:Pantalones 02:52, April 4, 2009

References, part 2

Based on the conversation below, I went ahead and attempted to clean up the references section. I only left those directly connected to the Muppets and their performances. Below are the references that I removed (sorted by type). If you feel that one should be put back in, feel free to bring it up here. -- Brad D. (talk) 15:58, 6 March 2009 (UTC)

Brad, thanks for doing this! I think it's worthwhile to look at these again and see which ones we think are relevant. There are a couple that I'm going to put back in. The Cake version is a reference to the Muppet song; it's got the "Lullaby of Birdland" break in the middle. The MST reference can also count; it's one of many Muppet references on the show. -- Danny@fandom (talk) 20:02, 6 March 2009 (UTC)

Removed References

Uses not directly linked to The Muppets
  • The song was used many times in the 1970s and early 1980s in The Benny Hill Show.
  • In 2004, the German film Sommersturm used a version of this song when the QueerSchlag Team plays a prank on Georg.
  • The song was sung by Jennifer Finnigan in the pilot of the short-lived NBC sitcom Committed in 2005. Later episodes revealed that it was also the ringtone on her cell phone.
  • In the May 7, 2007 episode of As the World Turns, the song plays in the background while characters Brad Snyder and Katie Kasnoff clean up a woman's house during.
  • In the Miami auditions of So you think you can dance in 2009, it was played during a barrage of Tyce Diorio comments, can be found here:
Uses in commercials
  • Banana Boat have used the song in one of their ongoing television advertisements, but instead replacing the "Mahna Mahna" with "Banana Boat".
  • In the Spring of 2007, the song was used as the background music of a commercial for Menard's home improvement stores.
  • In late 2006, a version in which the phrase "you never know" replaced the title lyrics was used as background music for Big Lots TV advertisements.
  • Also starting in late 2006, a version was used in Saturn automobile commercials.
Uses by local radio stations
  • The song was regularly featured on the J.P. Patches children's television show on KIRO-TV channel 7 in Seattle between 1970 and 1981.
  • In 2004 a children's music radio show on WEFT 90.1 FM called "Mah Na Mah Na" began. The show features the song as its theme song.
  • Fargo, North Dakota radio station KBVB "Bob 95 FM" created a commercial with puppets that spoofed the sketch by changing the "Mahna Mahna" lyrics to "Turn Your Knob To Bob" (which is the station's slogan).
Non-notable samplings of an unknown version of the song
  • Pato Fu, a Brazilian pop group used the melody of "Mahna Mahna" as a basis for their song "Made in Japan", the chorus uses a vocoded voice singing "Made in Japan" instead of "Mahna Mahna".
  • The punk band That Handsome Devil sampled "Mahna Mahna" in their song "Hey White Boy."
  • Sampling of the song formed the basis for a 1997 UK single, "No Way No Way" by Vanilla.


A contributor added this French Dunkin' Donuts commercial to the list. This is actually a reference to the original Piero Umiliani song, not the Muppets version.

The key aspect of the Muppet version is the interruption with a "Lullaby of Birdland" riff in the middle of the song; that commercial only has the "Mahna Mahna" parts, and it also sounds like the Umiliani version.

There's a huge list of References on this article, and I suspect that many of them are also based on the Umiliani version and not the Muppet version. For example, it mentions Benny Hill using the song "in the 1970s and early 1980s". The Benny Hill Show started in 1969, and I'm pretty sure it used the Umiliani version.

I'd like to clean up that section, if possible, and only include references that are clearly using the Muppet version. Unfortunately, many of the references listed are vague and refer to old commercials and local radio stations. The only way to do it may be just to clear out most of it -- keep the things that we can confirm, like Cake, Weird Al, Mystery Science Theater and The Office, and delete pretty much everything else. Does anyone have ideas? -- Danny@fandom (talk) 20:59, 16 February 2009 (UTC)

I don't think there's any question that the Muppets popularized the song for the world. Nobody says "Let's get that Umiliani song for our commercial," it's rather "Oh, let's get that funny song from the Muppets!" I think we should keep them all, but split the list up between those that are provably using the Muppet version and those that are using some other recording. —Scott (talk) 21:22, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
I think Benny Hill also contributed to the song's popularity, and that was the Umiliani version. -- Danny@fandom (talk) 21:33, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
Is there evidence for either of our claims? —Scott (talk) 21:35, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
Actually, here's the original -- [2] -- and that has interruptions too (although not "Lullaby of Birdland"). One thing that's different is that the original is a very nasal voice, and the Muppet voice is gruff.
The Dunkin' Donuts commercial is more like the Umiliani version -- it's got a nasal voice, and lounge-music style instrumentation. -- Danny@fandom (talk) 22:13, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, the Quebecois version is much closer to the Umliani version (particularly in the backing orchestration, which is mostly simplified or dropped for the Sullivan/Muppet Show version) and the much more rapid pacing, and the international aspect complicates it further.
Though the Muppets had an international impact, and the single of the song was released elsewhere, it's really in the states that the identification with the Muppets is universal, depending on context,and that's also a recent phenomenon (the song had already broken the Billboard top 100 singles *before* the Muppets got ahold of it). In particular, in the French speaking portions of Canada, where they never got The Muppet Show dubbed but may have heard the Umliani song on the radio (that version has played constantly), it's incredibly iffy.
Things like that Dr. Pepper ad, where it's Jim's voice and the Frank vocals, are beyond question, or where they specifically reference the Muppets or puppets. This one is questionable.
So kind of echoing Scott, I'd say we start by dividing up the list and then look at what's left, but starting on the talk page and then deciding which should remain on the main page. But in a case like this, a commercial which otherwise has no connection to the Muppets and where it sounds like the Umliani recording, I'd say we play it safe and leave it off the article.
A lot of people used the song in 1969 (even Red Skelton) seizing on it more or less at once, though the Sesame version was mostly overlooked (and that one was a closer match to the original) and it seems it was really with The Muppet Show that the identification of the song with the Muppets became fully solidified, but even then, not every use or variation of the tune is a Muppet reference. Those weird talking monster dolls with a fakenJim voice? Obviously Muppet inspired. Mini mini ad? Definitely sounds more like Umliani and doesn't have anything Muppety about it. Ad agencies license little ditties all the time and, especially outside the US, they tend to have a much wider frame of reference as far as music choices and so on. -- Andrew 22:18, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
Even if we do list all known references to this song regardless of whether they are known to have been because of the Muppets version, that could lead to other users listing non-Muppet-related references to songs like "Octopus's Garden", "School's Out", "Halfway Down the Stairs", and other songs that weren't written for the Muppets. --Minor muppetz 00:48, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
Michael, those songs are all popular anyway. If it weren't for the Muppets, nobody'd ever have heard Mahna Mahna except for the 2 people who watched Benny Hill, and even then he didn't really "popularize" it the way the Muppets did. Between repeat performances and the internet popularity, there's no question that recent uses of the song are getting nostalgic for the Muppets. I think it's interesting that the British version of The Office did a bit with the song, but they went in the Muppet reference direction, not Benny Hill. (YouTube)Scott (talk) 00:59, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

Two people? The Benny Hill Show was on for 19 seasons, from 1969 to 1989. He's not as well-known in the US, but in the UK, he's very well-known. -- Danny@fandom (talk) 01:15, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

It was a joke. —Scott (talk) 01:41, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

Okay, I'm going through the list, and also through (which isn't ideal for this since it mainly covers regional US papers and accent marks and such throw it off since it's searching through scanned documents, not a full text conversion). I see the Benny Hill thing is on the page, and that's definitely not a reference to the Muppet version in anyway. Outside of using the Umiliani recording, the timing is off; I'm having trouble finding exact dates, but the series premiered in 1969 and seems to have started using the song as a background theme at least by 1972 (shame we don't have any Benny Hillologists here). There's a common myth that the Muppets plucked the song from utter obscurity which just isn't true. It became a popular novelty song, with extensive radio coverage and selling very well as a single, and from 1968 through the 70s *everybody* was using the recording or covering it (even Arthur Fiedler did so at a Pops concert in 1976, paired with songs from Mame). A 1976 issue of Youth magazine notes that the Umiliani record was a most requested track that year, breaking into the top 10 (post Sullivan, true, which may have influenced some but I don't think we can fully attribute it to that). But it was really just that, a popular novelty song, so nobody seemed to really identify it with Benny Hill or anybody, though it seems it was with the 1977 release of the Muppet Show *album* that the Muppet version gained traction. US papers don't start connecting Mahna Mahna (or more often, the proper "Mah Na Mah Na" separation) until 1978. So at the very least, I think it would be prudent to cross off those uses of just the song or the recording prior to that. For others, I don't think we can ignore context or assume all versions, like that French commercial (but they're also not a reference to Benny Hill, but just using a weird catchy song; for awhile in the 1940s, "The Hut Hut Song," which surfaces in a couple Looney Tunes, had the same kind of life). So I'm starting through the list here, just focusing on those which don't directly mention the Muppets, at least as listed, or where it's not clear which track was used (can anyone check on Cake's cover?)

  • The Benny Hill Show- definitely not a reference to the Muppets. Take out.
  • "The song was regularly featured on the J.P. Patches children's television show on KIRO-TV channel 7 in Seattle between 1970 and 1981." Only the children's aspect would make it mildly possible that it was Muppet influenced, *but* it could not have been the Muppet recording which wasn't released until 1977. And it's the kind of ephemera we can't check anyway, so it should go.
  • "Banana Boat have used the song in one of their ongoing television advertisements, but instead replacing the "Mahna Mahna" with "Banana Boat"." Depends on context, but *probably* inspired by the Muppet version, but it's not really a direct reference like the Dr. Pepper ad, and if anything, going through this list, just a note that the tune has been reworked and other words substituted in many commercials (some possibly inspired by the Muppets, some definitely not) would cover it, unless any spot *actually* uses the Muppet version (as Dr. Pepper did) or references them.
  • A children's radio music show called "Mah Na Mah Na" from somewhere (it's not clear where). Not the spelling used here or on Muppet albums, still could be a reference, but honestly, why bother?
  • "In 2004, the German film Sommersturm used a version of this song when the QueerSchlag Team plays a prank on Georg." Not sure how this can be verified (unless Henrik or someone reliable like that added it) or which version was used, but if they used the Umiliani recording, it really is unfair to count it as a Muppet reference.
  • The Office bit is covered in detail on that page. Committed is mentioned; I missed the pilot, but given the year, context in an NBC US sitcom, and its use as a recurring ringtone, I think it's fair to count it (though direct checking would be nice, but probably difficult).
  • Big Lots- Another "uses the song, changes the lyrics" thing. As I said, I think we can cover that in one sentence. Big Lots probably was Muppet-styled, but trying to keep track of every commercial someone feels likeadding isn't very useful.
  • Saturn mobile- same deal *unless* someone can prove that it used the actual Muppet recording (not that it used the tune and some phrase).
  • As the World Turns, 2007: "the song plays in the background while characters Brad Snyder and Katie Kasnoff clean up a woman's house during." I'm not sure what it was during, and this could go either way. It seems more likely they'd use the Muppet version (these days, easier for NBC to license the Muppet bit) but it would be nice to confirm.
  • Samplings: These all really need to be checked individually, to see if they used Umiliani or Muppet recordings. The Brazilian pop group thing says they used the melody but changed the lyrics. Brazil's love of the Muppets is well-documented in contrast to Quebec, so it's a probably, but again, if it's not a direct reference to the Muppet Show but we're guessing the person recording their own variation/spoof heard it there, is it *really* worth documenting or bothering worth? It's certainly been *sustained* by the Muppets, but it's also unlike a lot of phrases used in Looney Tunes ("I'm only three and a half years old," say, though I'm sure there are better examples) which were deliberate, specific references to something else at the time (usually radio comedies), were then sometimes used by others in reference to the Looney Tunes, and by now if they surface, nobody can really remember where it came from except that they were exposed to it.
  • Fargo, North Dakota radio station KBVB "Bob 95 FM" created a commercial with puppets that spoofed the sketch by changing the "Mahna Mahna" lyrics to "Turn Your Knob To Bob" (which is the station's slogan)." Okay, the use of puppets, even if it is another "commercial changes lyrics" thing, is a pretty solid Muppet reference/spoof, so I'd say keep.

That's my take right now. Feel free to add any others here or raise reasons why some should be kept or dropped and all that jazz (had this half typed out over five hours ago but then left to see a two dollar movie). And really, looking through that list, just as big an issue is that a number are difficult or even impossible to verify or source, like those random radio or TV station stuff from years ago, or regional commercials, and so on. If anyone can find YouTube links to anything in question here, that could help. -- Andrew Leal (talk) 04:05, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

I just wanted to clarify what you meant by "plucked from obscurity". Are you referring to the Sesame version or the Muppet Show version? Because the original 45 hit the Billboard charts on 9/6/69, was only on the chart for 6 weeks, and only got as high as 55. So it would have been gone before the Sesame version aired. However, since it did better in Europe, I think Jim may have heard this somewhere, and that led to his picking it for Sesame Street. I think the subsequent repetition on Sesame was what led to its popularity in America. It was even included on the Peter Pan cover album, at a time when no Sesame soundtrack version was available. And I remember growing up during that time, and that everybody thought of Sesame Street when you said "Mahna Mahna". So I think that it was obscure to most US viewers, until Episode 0014 introduced it, and made it as much a Muppet classic as "Rubber Duckie". This probably doesn't change anything you said above, but I just wanted to share my take on how the song did as far as US sales and airplay pre-Sesame Street, and the song's Sesame Street-related popularity pre-1976. -- Ken (talk) 05:24, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
Obscurity implies that it was unheard of and had no exposure in the states and even with the limited resources I have at the moment, I've found over a dozen non or pre-Sesame references to the song and listings in sales or radio stations and so on, and specific statements and contexts which refer to it as a then-known novelty song. I'm not saying it was a Beatles smash, but it was known and listened to and talked about and heard (and not just in Europe, though if I had access to any of those journals right now, I'm sure it would be revealing). That ranking is pretty average for faddish weirdo novelty songs, and given the Street's target audience and age group, I don't think that episode did much to change things at that specific point in time (one or two TV Guide listings I've found mention it's use of the popular Umiliani novelty hit in the description, but that's all, and the same entries mention "Yellow Submarine" and so on), the way The Muppet Show would much later, or make a difference in deciding which entries count as actual Muppet references. In fact, I can't find any references beyond those brief TV Guide blurbs to the song in connection with Sesame until decades later, and the Muppet Show connection comes, at least in the press, in 1978. I looked at Songs from Sesame Street, by the way, and that's not the best example, consisting solely of covers, from very well known tunes like "Swing on a Star" to more recent pop songs like "Spinning Wheel." Basically, the issue isn't whether the Muppets ensured the *lasting* popularity of the song, since they undoubtedly did, but whether any early uses of the recording should count as references (all evidence suggests no) and whether by default every use of the song itself (not the Muppet track), especially either the Umiliani track or fleeting commercials (none of which I could find on YouTube) and such which tailor the song to a different purpose. -- Andrew Leal (talk) 09:26, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
To add to the discussion - aside from debating if a use was Muppet inspired or not, I think some of these are simply not notable. Is it notable that a community radio station in East-Central Illinois played the song at the start of a children's block in 2004? Do we care that there was a commercial for a radio show in Fargo, North Dakota that spoofed the song? Not only are they hard to verify, but who really cares? A few of these seem like we're just a step away from adding random YouTube spoofs, any college radio show that has used the song as background music when reading PSAs, or if a high school marching band plays the tune. Local radio shows, non-national commercials, samplings by obscure bands, who cares? I think some should just be taken out for just being minor and non-notable. -- Brad D. (talk) 09:37, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, my feelings exactly. Checking the history, in fact, almost the entire list (minus Weird Al, Dr. Pepper, and one or two others) was copied from Wikipedia's 2007 version of the page for the song in general, not the Muppet version, and nearly all of that's gone now, as either non notable or unsourced and so on. And since 2007, we've pretty much stopped using unsourced Wikipedia stuff, so basically this is just another remnant. -- Andrew Leal (talk) 09:53, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

YouTube, part 2


Another version is found here, and appears to be the one from This is Tom Jones. Can anyone confirm? -- MuppetDude 20:39, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Have you tried contacting the person who posted it to YouTube? —Scott (talk) 07:35, 25 September 2008 (UTC)


Okay. The first version of the song, from Sesame Street, was released on YouTube. I want to put the link in, but I can't find how to do it correctly in the Help guide. Sorry. If someone could, I would appreciate it. [link removed] Hale 20:04, 18 May 2007 (UTC)

Australian single and chart performance

While researching something entirely different, I discovered that the only chart hit ever credited to "the Muppets" in Australia was a single of Mahna Mahna. Here's the relevant details (straight from p. 211 of Kent, David, Australian Chart Book (1970-1992), Published: St Ives, NSW, Publisher: Australian Chart Book, 1993, ISBN: 0646119176):

  • Entered charts 22 Aug 1977
  • Highest position 26
  • Weeks in chart 28
  • Cat # Astor AP 1938

The book itself doesn't clarify this, but according to this site, the single is equivalent to the UK Pye release with Mr Bassman on the B-side.

I think this is a neat (albeit minor) factoid. The question is, where's the best place to put this information? On here? On the singles article? Somewhere else entirely? And how detailed should the reference be?

(I'll also check if the chart data for the various movie songs credited to Kermit are on those articles and add 'em if not.) Gusworld 02:44, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

Hi, Angus! We've actually got quite a few chart positions for Muppet singles and albums all over the wiki. Check out Rubber Duckie and The Rainbow Connection for some examples of US singles that charted on the American charts. Quite a few of the soundtracks charted as well. So I would put what you have on the song's page. And we can also make a place for that single on the International Muppet Singles page, and hopefully find a picture. I'm really interested in the non-US releases and chart positions, so I hope you find more! -- Ken (talk) 02:56, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
OK, will do. There's actually a few more chart entries than I thought, pasted below (inelegantly as I haven't time for table markup right now :-). Is it worth also gathering these in one brief article on Australian chart performance, or should I just distribute them to the relevant locations?
Performer Title Debuted Highest position Weeks on chart Catalogue number Page reference
Jim Henson (as Ernie) Rubber Duckie 5 Oct 1970 10 18 CBS BA 22 1764 138
Kermit Rainbow Connection 10 Dec 1979 14 19 CBS BA 222577 165
Fozzie & Kermit Movin' Right Along 10 Mar 1980 58 14 CBS BA 222623 165
Muppets Mahna Mahna 22 Aug 1977 26 28 Astor AP 1938 211
Soundtrack LP The Muppet Show 15 Aug 1977 39 23 Astor SPLP 1502 282
Soundtrack LP The Muppet Movie 10 Dec 1979 31 20 CBS SBP 237381 282 Gusworld 03:15, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
I think we should have a page about chart performance in general. I'd be really interested to know what Muppet songs made the charts in America, in the UK, and anywhere else. A lot of that information is probably already on the wiki, but it'd be cool to have it all in one place. --GrantHarding 03:49, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure about an article about Australian chart performance. I don't know if we have anything on here about how the Muppets were received in Australia in general. I think we should just start adding the relevant data in a section where we mention how each song did in the US, UK, Australia, and other countries, using whatever recognized national chart each country uses (like Billboard for the US). This is also good data for tracking down copies of these records! I've never heard of Astor until recently, and now we know about 2 LP's and a single! -- Ken (talk) 03:55, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
Sorry about that, Grant. For some reason, your response got cut out when I wrote mine! Anyway, I'd been thinking about some kind of multi-country chart myself. We'll have to see if there are any chart formats we could use. Thanks for bringing it up! -- Ken (talk) 04:05, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
OK, those sounds like good approaches. I'll pop the data into the relevant articles (unless someone's already started while I'm typing this!) I know there's a sprinkling of data about the Muppets in Australia around here, because I've added it myself :-), and there probably could be an article on it -- it's a very longstanding market for Sesame product -- so I'll have to get to that some time.
An article combining all the chart data would definitely be good. Given that the release information is all in the appropriate articles for albums and singles, it wouldn't need to be too complex -- probably just the usual date entered, highest position, weeks in stuff -- and basic details of the relevant charts for each country. The challenge is that it'd be one of those tables with lots of gaps (for songs that only charted in one place), though the gaps themselves do convey information, I guess. Gusworld 04:15, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

Play With Me Sesame

Just in case we ever need a source for the version on PWMS, it's been discussed here. Not a real source, but at least a lead. The wiki still knows very little about those episodes as evidenced here. —Scott (talk) 15:23, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

Dr. Pepper

So would it be the correct place to mention that the Jim and Frank recording of this was used in a Dr. Pepper commerical last year? Or should we just list that in the references? --Nate Radionate 16:34, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

I'd say it works here, but under a separate subheading. Maybe Other Performances or Trivia? --Peter Pantalones 16:42, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
I put it in under references. If anyone disagrees, they may retitle it. --Nate Radionate 17:02, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

Platinum or Platimun Too?

I decided to list some albums featuring this song, but can anybody tell me if this song was included in Platinum All-Time Favorites or Platinum Too? I am thinking that it was on one of those albums, but I'm not sure which one, and I don't think either page for those albums have a track listing. --Minor muppetz 01:24, 23 March 2006 (UTC)

Okay, I just did some research, and I found that it's on the Platinum Too album. --Minor muppetz 03:21, 23 March 2006 (UTC)

Added 1970 GRT album

Hello, my name is Jim, and I am the one who added the photo of the above referenced LP to the "Cover Versions" section. I read through your discussions of what constitutes an appropriate addition to this page. I thought this was worthwhile because (a.) that creature on the cover is as blatant a Muppet knockoff as anything and (b.) both the front and back cover of the album feature references to Sesame Street (I'm not sure if you can see it below the 'M' there). For the record, the rest of the LP features mostly standards like "Peg O' My Heart", "Whispering", "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town", and (interestingly enough) "Mississippi Mud", with all lyrics replaced by "mah na mah na", and some minimal female backup singers. Oh, I almost forgot the kazoo accompaniment on most of the songs.

The blurb on the back of the album sleeve says "Dear Friends, We hope you and the whole family enjoy our album - we really had fun recording it. Everytime (sic) we hear 'Mah-Nà Mah-Nà' on Sesame Street we get out our kazoos and play along. Why don't you do the same? We love you....... MAH-NÀ MAH-NÀ" Joinery1 20:33, September 23, 2011 (UTC)

New article from Slate (FYI)

Interesting article, even if it gets a couple of facts slightly off. Powers 23:14, November 23, 2011 (UTC)

Where does this go?