A band of Hot Freaks has a hit song on TikTok — years after breaking up

A Minnesota band has a hit single that kids across the country are obsessed with. But the band broke up about seven years ago. How did this happen? And why?

The answer: TikTok.

“Puppy Princess” by Hot Freaks has been used in over 100,000 TikToks and has more than 24 million listens on Spotify. The band is mystified but grateful. Sarah Darnall and Cody Brown of Hot Freaks sat down with host Cathy Wurzer to talk about their good fortune.

Hot Freaks formed in 2011. In 2015, as life got in the way, the band went on an unplanned, indefinite hiatus.

Years later, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the band started to hear whispers of the popularity of “Puppy Princess” on TikTok. None of them used the app, Brown said: “Maybe I’m just a little bit old-school … I’m not as savvy with social media — but I’m learning very fast.”

According to Brown, the song first got big as part of a trend in which people tried to type the lyrics to the song with their eyes closed (since the lyrics say “Kiss me with your eyes closed”). “It kind of became gamified,” Brown said.

Before you keep reading ...

MPR News is made by Members. Gifts from individuals fuel the programs that you and your neighbors rely on. Donate today to power news, analysis, and community conversations for all.

Soon, record labels started reaching out to Hot Freaks about the song. The band couldn’t believe it at first. “Honestly, we thought we were being catfished,” Darnall said.

But eventually, the band realized that the labels were in fact for real, and they signed “Puppy Princess” as a single to Elektra Records.

That led to a whirlwind Hot Freaks reunion. Band members, now spread out across the country, got back together in the Twin Cities for a few intense days of shooting and editing for a “Puppy Princess” music video. Brown, who works as a video director and editor, directed the video himself.

Now, the band is trying to set up a reunion show in the spring and release songs they recorded when they were first together.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

Subscribe to the Minnesota Now podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotify or wherever you get your podcasts.