“You know that it’s our time, these are the best days of our lives. Let’s raise our glasses high, this one’s for you tonight.”
Vanderpump Rules fans know these lyrics well; they comprise the chorus of “Raise Your Glass,” the show’s theme song, appearing in the opening credits since the series’ inception back in 2013. Fans of the Bravo show have always had an affinity for the show’s theme song. The more people became obsessed, the more the song became synonymous with Vanderpump Rules. Showrunner Jeremiah Smith told The Wrap in February, “When you hear that song, you immediately know what show is on TV. You immediately know [what] you’re in for.”
In the last couple of months, as everything involving Vanderpump has shot into the zeitgeist because news broke that Tom Sandoval cheated on Ariana Madix, his girlfriend of ten years, with their friend and fellow cast member Raquel Leviss, “Raise Your Glass” has especially skyrocketed in public interest. Page Six posted a video of James Kennedy playing the song to an excited, screaming crowd when he DJed at a New York City night club in April, people are using it in the background as they recreate the show’s opening credits on TikTok, and it’s even been played during workout classes.
“I definitely neglected it for a lot of years because my standard was the Grammys and so it was like, this is no big deal to me. Now, I have nothing but humility and gratitude for it,” singer-songwriter Dena Deadly told Rolling Stone. “People are enjoying it and joy is radical in these times. I’m just glad to be a part of that. I’m just so happy that people love it and are rocking out to it in the club.”
When Deadly wrote and recorded the Vanderpump Rules theme song “Raise Your Glass” more than a decade ago, she didn’t anticipate the impact it would ultimately have in the Bravo universe — and in her own life. At the time, Deadly — whose real name is Dena Marie Kelley — was a singer-songwriter in a pop band called Memoir with her then-husband Zed Kelley and her brother Remi Garner. While they were recording creative projects and trying to get their band off the ground, their manager suggested they also make music on spec for commercials, television, and film as a way to earn some extra income.
One time, Memoir received a request from a music licensing company to come up with a song that sounded like Pink’s 2010 hit single “Raise Your Glass” but also sounded a little like 311’s “Down.” Deadly, Kelley, and Garner were all living together in Deadly and Kelley’s home in the Glendale area of Los Angeles and the trio wrote, produced, and recorded “Raise Your Glass” in their basement home studio. Their manager submitted the song and Vanderpump Rules selected it for their theme song when the show first aired on Bravo in January 2013.
Back when the show premiered, Deadly says she remembers watching the opening credits to the episode with her friends and family. She says she was happy that “Raise Your Glass” was reaching a large audience but she wasn’t necessarily over-the-moon excited about the experience. To Deadly, it was just another TV spot.
“It was cool and it was nice to have my family sit around the couch for the first moment,” Deadly says. “But I was also like, oh, that’s not a big deal because I wanted to be at the Grammys, I was targeting my interview with Oprah, because I’m interested in what we’re going to do with the platform that comes from making music.”
After “Raise Your Glass” premiered on Vanderpump Rules, a friend of theirs who works in production heard the theme song and asked Memoir to come up with another track for an upcoming Bravo reality series. The band made the song “We Never Stop,” which has played during the opening credits of Summer House since it started airing in January 2017. The show has since gone on for seven seasons and inspired two spinoffs: Winter House and Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard.
Deadly says they sold “We Never Stop” for a lump sum in a one-off deal but “Raise Your Glass” has been more lucrative. According to Deadly, the members of Memoir earn revenue from the song based on its placement and they also collect from streaming.
“It wasn’t an overarching deal,” she says. “It was a very good deal.”
All these years later, though, Deadly appreciates the staying power “Raise Your Glass” has had with fans of the show. The singer-songwriter is passionate about social justice issues and using her music as a way to talk about the topics she considers most pressing, but she says she loves the popularity of the VPR theme song.
“It brings me joy. I mean, that’s why you do music,” she says. “Half of all the music that we make is to bring joy and celebrate and to release and to heal, and half the music is to blow the whistle because there’s so much work to be done. But this is a joy song and that’s still important.”
Deadly hasn’t been keeping up with the news surrounding Scandoval. In fact, despite the fact that she dabbles in watching reality-television shows like Love Is Blind and some of the Real Housewives franchises, she says she’s never really tuned into Vanderpump Rules. Even though Deadly isn’t well-versed in the ten seasons of Vanderpump drama, she says one of the best nights of her life was when she performed “Raise Your Glass” on Watch What Happens Live back in 2016. Lisa Vanderpump joined WWHL host Andy Cohen on stage while Memoir sang the iconic lyrics to the theme song.
“That was a moment when I really, really felt the beauty of the theme song and the fruits of that labor. We had our band on stage, we had a partial track, but I wasn’t lip-syncing,” Deadly says. “Andy [Cohen] was just so dope, so fun, and so welcoming. Lisa was so amazing and gracious to us. When we finished the song they approached us and threw rose petals into the air. I remember smiling and looking up at Lisa holding my left hand and Andy’s on my other side with these petals falling down. It was such a cool moment.”
Watch What Happens Live was the first and only time Deadly met Vanderpump. She hasn’t met any of the other cast members yet but she says she would love to have the opportunity.
“Raise Your Glass” has long been a fan favorite. Back in 2016, John Legend even sang a quick, beautiful cover of the theme song in a video posted to Instagram by Chrissy Teigen, a mega VPR fan. But its recent spike in popularity across culture comes at a poignant time for Deadly. She’s in the midst of divorcing her husband and longtime music partner, which is simultaneously upending her personal and professional worlds. For Deadly, the phenomenon around the Vanderpump Rules theme song is divine timing and she’s endlessly grateful for the goodness it brings to her life.
“Never give up because ten years later, something could arise that ignites something in you again and reminds you that there are avenues and there’s a way forward for you,” Deadly says. “Certainly, this song having the longevity it’s had and resurging right now in this period of my life is so poetic and perfect.”
As she enters this new phase of her career and life at the age of 44, Deadly is excited about recording new music about female empowerment that she will own the rights to. She’s also interested in creating more music to license for TV and film. If “Raise Your Glass” proves anything, Deadly is more than capable of making a bop worthy of reality-TV royalty.
“After years of men coercing me into signing contracts that only benefit them and housing my music and doing nothing with it, I’m going to take the remnants of what’s left and control it and own it all from here on out,” Deadly says. “I’m coming out of the ashes.”