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"Pure Imagination" is a song from the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. It was written by British composers Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley specifically for the movie. It was sung by Gene Wilder who played the character of Willy Wonka. Bricusse has stated that the song was written over the phone in one day. The song has a spoken introduction.
|Song by Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka|
|Songwriter(s)||Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley|
Since its release, the song has been covered and remixed hundreds of times by a wide variety of artists. The original song was not popular when it was first released. The film itself wasn't a blockbuster and other songs from the soundtrack performed better. It wasn't until the movie began appearing on television reruns in the 1980s that the film and "Pure Imagination" become more well known. Although the original song never charted, some cover versions have done so.
- Bill Charlap included a version on his 1998 album All Through the Night.
- Lou Rawls recorded a version of "Pure Imagination" for his 1976 album All Things in Time.
- Avant-garde guitarist Buckethead has covered the song several times, including versions on his debut album Bucketheadland (1992), his second album Giant Robot (1994), as well as performing it live.
- Soft rock singer Kenny Loggins covered the song in part of his song "Neverland Melody" from his 1994 album Return to Pooh Corner.
- A cover by the punk band Smoking Popes appeared on their 1997 album Destination Failure.
- Maroon 5 covered "Pure Imagination" in the 2004 children's album Mary Had a Little Amp and again in 2009's Change Is Now: Renewing America's Promise.
- American pianist Emile Pandolfi recorded a version of "Pure Imagination" for his 2005 album Believe.
- Pianist/keyboardist Bradley Joseph arranged a cover version of "Pure Imagination" on his 2005 album, For the Love of It.
- Jamie Cullum recorded a cover version for his 2013 album Momentum.
- Bob James covered this song on his 1977 album BJ4.
- The Blenders recorded a version in their signature vocal harmony style (not true a cappella for this track), mashed up with "White Christmas".
- Jackie Evancho covered this song for her song compilation called Songs from the Silver Screen.
- Mariah Carey covered "Pure Imagination" as an urban/R&B remix (B-side) with the remake of "I Still Believe." There is an additional separate version of this song (featuring Mariah Carey) by Krayzie Bone on his album Thug Mentality 1999.
- Monty Alexander did a jazz cover in his album Pure Imagination (2002).
- Philadelphia jazz trumpeter John Swana did a jazz cover of the tune on his quintet album Tug of War (1998), released on the Criss Cross label.
- Steve Lehman covered the song in a trio setting with Damion Reed and Matt Brewer on the album Dialect Fluorescent (2012).
- Primus covered "Pure Imagination" into their own psychedelic interpretation for their 2014 album, Primus & the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble.
- Karmin recorded a cover version of the song titled "Come With Me (Pure Imagination)" for their second studio album Leo Rising.
- Josh Groban covered the song for his 2015 album, Stages. He also performed the song in a YouTube video with violinist Lindsey Stirling and The Muppets.
- 2016: Barbra Streisand and Seth MacFarlane covered the song for the compilation album Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway.
- Sara Watkins covers the song on her 2021 album Under the Pepper Tree.
- 2021: YouTube musician Roasted Sushi posted a lofi hip hop cover version of the song.
- Dublin-based rock band The Frames incorporated part of the first verse of the song into live performances of their song 'Star Star **', as featured on the live album Set List.
- The tune served as the basis for Southwind Drum and Bugle Corps 2005 program "Distorted Imagination".
- The Santa Clara Vanguard Drum and Bugle Corps featured the song in their 2015 production "The Spark of Invention."
- Comedian Russell Brand performed the song at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the Musical covers "Pure Imagination" with Charlie singing with Wonka.
- EDM producer Fox Stevenson played a cover of this song at the Laundry Day Music Festival in 2016 as a tribute to Wilder, who had died four days earlier.
- In the first season of The Muppet Show, Ben Vereen sings the song to a depressed Muppet named Droop on a rooftop, accompanied by flying creatures. This rendition starts off similarly to the version from the source film, but segues into a bossa nova variation on the second verse.
- Craig Kilborn parodied the song during a promo for the premiere of his version of The Late Late Show in 1999.
- In 2005, MasterCard commissioned an upbeat, alternative-style version of the song for its television commercial "Candy Store."
- In September 2013, the song was featured in a Chipotle short film, sung by Fiona Apple. (US No. 104)
- The Glee Cast covered the song in the episode, "Funeral".
- An orchestral version of the song was played at the 86th Academy Awards in 2014 after Lupita Nyong'o won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
- RedLetterMedia uses the song during their Plinkett Reviews. The character of Harry Plinkett regularly sings the song in a slow, disturbing manner, typically while dragging kidnapped women through his house or putting his cat in the microwave.
- In October 2016 and September 2021, Microsoft used an adapted version of the music, performed by Stephanie Tarling, to announce the Surface Studio and Surface Laptop Studio
- In April 2010, AT&T used the song with the flying UFO paper animation throughout the city with the original song for their Rethink Possible Commercial.
- In 2017, it was used in the Audi A5 Sportback commercial.
- In February 2019, Samsung used this song to announce their first foldable smartphone, Samsung Galaxy Fold in the Samsung Unpacked event, performed by Joanna Wang and she was released the song since 2014 in the album Midnight Cinema.
- An orchestral version of the song, titled Imagine This World by Pitch Hammer Music, is used in the first half of the initial teaser trailer ("Ready Player One - SDCC Teaser [HD]") for Steven Spielberg's 2018 film, Ready Player One. It was later covered in an extended version by Ghostwriter Music (Bryan Nguyen featuring vocals by Merethe Soltvedt) for the entire length of the final trailer ("READY PLAYER ONE - Come With Me"), and added to Ready Player One (Songs From the Motion Picture).
- J. P. Karliak as Willy Wonka sang Pure Imagination in the 2017 direct-to-DVD film Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
- Ruby Arias (portrayed by Emma Tremblay) sang the song for a school concert in the Supergirl episode, "The Faithful".
- An instrumental version of the song is featured in the 2017 Marvel Studios film Thor: Ragnarok.
- The song is covered by Dorothy Spinner (played by Abigail Shapiro) in the episode "Sex Patrol" of the DC Universe/HBO Max series Doom Patrol.
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- Hines, Ree (31 August 2016). "Coldplay performs touching Gene Wilder tribute with 'Pure Imagination'". Today.
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- "Primus Visit Wonka's Chocolate Factory With 'Pure Imagination' Cover".
- Roberts, Randall (13 September 2013). "Fiona Apple covers Willy Wonka in striking new Chipotle clip". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
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- "'Supergirl' recap: Kara hosts an awkward girls' night". EW.com. 31 October 2017. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
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