Sunday, February 22, 2009

Shorties: Mah Nà Mah Nà

Piero Umiliani: Mah Nà Mah Nà

[purchase for $125 dollars]

The American cultural origin of this familiar tune is definitive. The vivid imagery of the Muppets frames the song as a story, played out between the earnest chorus voices and the smarmy, interrupting lead. It's hard to shake the association, and harder still not to see the song as innocently playful as a result.

But Italian film composer Piero Umiliani originally wrote the song for a sauna scene in a mock-documentary about wild sexual behavior in Sweden. How does this challenge our sense of the song's playful innocence? Our image of Jim Henson himself? Discuss.

Bonus trivia points: singer and surf guitarist Alessandro Alessandroni, whose nasal voice can be heard on the original track above, also did the whistling for the soundtrack to The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

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