@puppysongs / TikTok
Canine parenting is a bottomless vault of silly videos, head-scratching behavior and, if you’re Atlanta musician Matt Hobbs, plenty of songs.
The Puppy Songs founder has so far written more than 150 songs about his life with 13-year-old puppies Marley (aka Mar Pup) and Leni, a pair of Chihuahua and Pomeranian. His latest hit, musical theater-inspired “Cheese Tax,” has garnered millions of views on TikTok while still having us hum along to the melody on our way to the fridge.
What started as a fun project has turned into a relatable anthem for countless dog owners who expect a dog to materialize next to them every time they open the cheese drawer. or grab Kraft Singles. As the song says: When the cheese drawer opens, you have to pay the tax.
“I didn’t think it was so universal or people would be so tickled by it,” Hobbs told Daily Paws.
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Compose ‘Cheese Tax’
Puppy Songs began in 2020 as a pandemic “mental health project” for Hobbs, an opportunity for him to practice recording and mixing his own music while stuck at home. (If you enjoy a steady diet of dog videos on TikTok, you’ve probably heard his other songs, like “Puppy Walk” or “Stuck on My Teefs.”)
“My wife says I turned her life into a musical,” Hobbs says.
The creative process usually begins when he catches one of his dogs doing something funny on camera or notices one of their interesting habits. In this case, it’s them – primarily Mar Pup – seemingly appearing out of nowhere whenever Hobbs and his wife need cheese to cook with.
It’s a sight most dog owners can imagine instantly.
“[There’s] this sweet, but very serious pup who asks for some cheese while you cook,” says Hobbs.
He’d heard hints of “puppy tax” or “cheese tax,” so he tried to come up with a “walking hook,” a part of the song with easy-to-remember lyrics that didn’t don’t need instruments.
In this case: “The cheese tax, the cheese tax”, pronounced in a deep marching rhythm, opens the song. From there, he brainstormed what other material he wanted to include, recorded the 34-second diddy, and filmed additional footage of Tax Collector Mar Pup for the TikTok.
“Mar Pup had fun filming this one,” he adds.
(Before receiving emails: Hobbs says he made sure to give his puppies a safe amount of cheese, which should only be given to dogs in small portions.)
The song is original, although Hobbs says its “groove” is loosely inspired by “Master of the House” from Les Miserables. There are elements of Charlie Kelly’s music from Philadelphia is always sunny there too.
As for Hobbs’ favorite part, he enjoys the lyrics “when the cheese comes out, this pup comes for it” that accompanies a photo of Mar Pup running to the kitchen to get some cheese.
“It’s not a request,” he said. “It’s just a very focused curiosity that you feel when a dog is looking at you.”
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Going viral (again)
Hobbs has given up on predicting when his songs will explode. Creating “Cheese Tax” was mostly a passion project and not something he was trying to make famous. (He had some foresight, though. An extended version of “Cheese Tax” is available now on Spotify and soon on Apple Music.)
Similar to “Stuck on My Teefs” — which also generated millions of views on TikTok and inspired thousands of other toothy dog videos — Hobbs was surprised the song went viral after it was posted last week.
TikTokers have made over 8,300 other videos using the “Cheese Tax” audio, showing their pups quickly, mostly politely begging for cheese. The original Puppy Songs video garnered over 10 million views, but the second wave of posts gained even more.
All the views and the engagement are nice, but Hobbs’ favorite part of the process is seeing other people enjoy his music in their own homes. It is a “special candy” which is quite rare these days.
“Dogs and music have a really unique way of bringing human beings together, especially in a time when it’s increasingly rare, which is why I love this project – and because it’s very silly and fun to do for me,” he says.