Original 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. The song also appeared on the 1968 soundtrack album released for the film.
"Mah Nà Mah Nà" was a hit in many countries in 19681969. 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.