"It's a song for the losers!" How Halestorm's Here's To Us became the ultimate underdog anthem - and ended up being covered by everyone from Slash to the cast of Glee

Halestorm in 2012
(Image credit: Joby Sessions/Total Guitar Magazine/Future via Getty Images)

We’ve all had our fair share of bad days - but, sometimes, life can truly outdo itself. While the hard rock glitz and glamour may fool you, Halestorm can empathise. No strangers to a miserable bout of misfortune, their 2012 sophomore record, The Strange Case Of…, served up the perfect toast to adversary: Here’s To Us. A glorious anthem for the down-but-not-out, Here’s To Us is Halestorm’s promise to come back from hardship even stronger - and, considering the track would go on to be re-recorded in 2013 with the likes of Slash, Myles Kennedy, Wolfgang Van Halen and more, they certainly did.

As Lzzy Hale explained to Classic Rock earlier this year, Here’s To Us was written in a “purgatory” period of uncertainty following their 2009 self-titled debut. “Our old A&R guy got fired, or some of our friends were no longer a band anymore…” she recalls. Naturally, it made them panic about their own future; “Are we going to remain on Atlantic Records? Or are we going to go home to Pennsylvania and just… play the local bar scene for the rest of our lives?”

The would find solace at the bottom of a bottle - namely the $5 bottles of champagne from their local shop. “We would buy it, cheers each other and say: ‘no matter what, here’s to us,’” Hale laughs. “’We’re the ones that decided to stay together as a band, we were doing 250 dates a year on our own before Atlantic even came into the picture. If we have to go home, if this doesn’t work out, it’s OK. We’re still going to be a band.’” 

When Atlantic did have Halestorm back for their second record, the band wanted to commemorate their perseverance through purgatory. They would quickly piece together Here’s To Us - an homage to friendship, sticking to your dreams, and the sweet, sweet taste of corner store champagne. 

Here’s To Us is a blithe, booze-addled howl of camaraderie in the face of hardship. Howling along, glasses raised to the heavens, Halestorm remind us that, whatever happens, our pals will always pick us up again. The track would amp up the camaraderie in 2013, when Halestorm roped in a gaggle of rock and roll’s finest to feature on Here’s To Us - Guest Version for The Strange Case Of…’s deluxe release. 

Here’s To Us - Guest Version is a dream night out at the pub - we’ve got Slash, Alter Bridge's Myles Kennedy and Wolfgang Van Halen on one table, Disturbed’s David Draiman and In This Moment's Maria Brink stood over at the bar, Shinedown’s Brent Smith, Sixx:A.M.'s James Michael, and Theory of a Deadman's Tyler Connolly all playing a round of pool.

Speaking to WikiMetal, Hale explained how the mega collab all started with Halestorm’s cover of Guns N' Roses classic Out To Get Me cover. Impressed, Slash would invite Halestorm on his 2012 tour - even asking Hale to perform the track on-stage alongside him. When the band wanted to re-record Here’s To Us, they hoped Slash might want to perform on a track of their own. 

“Slash is one of those guys that’s very close to our hearts, so we asked him to be a part of the song,” Hale explains. “He didn’t even blink an eye, he was like, ‘Absolutely!’” The addition of so many other celebrated faces was the cherry on top, a sign of the “extended family” Halestorm have forged on the road over the years. 

In a chat with Backstage Access, Guitarist Joe Hottinger once described Here’s To Us as “a song for the losers” of the world. “You don’t always win everything in life,” he would explain. But the Guest Version feels like a triumph - as each artist offers their own meaty riff, or bellows their own cry of “Here’s to us!!” it’s a loud, proud celebration of the underdog.

The track has also had a stint on Broadway… well, Glee. It was covered in season three  of the sugary-sweet musical series. "It's pretty much the strangest thing we've done so far as a band,” Hale told The Pulse of Radio. “I thought to myself, there are three words in this song that can absolutely not go on Glee, so I ended up recording a clean version for them." Protagonist Rachel Berry delivers it with a commendable degree of passion - we imagine if she joined the Guest Version bar crawl she’d probably opt for a Virgin Mojito, though.

While the track has taken on many different forms and meanings over the years, Hale asserts that it will always be Halestorm’s “personal anthem” at the end of the day. “Every single time we play that song, it reminds me that it is still the four of us against the world, no matter what,” she says. So, here’s to Halestorm - the next round’s on us!

Emily Swingle

Full-time freelancer, part-time music festival gremlin, Emily first cut her journalistic teeth when she co-founded Bittersweet Press in 2019. After asserting herself as a home-grown, emo-loving, nu-metal apologist, Clash Magazine would eventually invite Emily to join their Editorial team in 2022. In the following year, she would pen her first piece for Metal Hammer - unfortunately for the team, Emily has since become a regular fixture. When she’s not blasting metal for Hammer, she also scribbles for Rock Sound, Why Now and Guitar and more.