Pure Imagination

"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.[1] 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.[2] The song has a spoken introduction.[3]

"Pure Imagination"
Song by Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka
Released1971 (1971)
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.[3] 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.[2][4] Although the original song never charted, some cover versions have done so.[5][4]

In the week following Wilder's death in 2016, the song rose in streams and sales by more than 1000%.[5] The song was featured in television, radio, and social media tributes to Wilder.[4][6]


Recorded Versions

Live Performances

Other Media

  • 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.[11] (US No. 104[12])
  • 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.[13][14]
  • 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"[15]), and added to Ready Player One (Songs From the Motion Picture[16]).
  • 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".[17]
  • An instrumental version of the song is featured in the 2017 Marvel Studios film Thor: Ragnarok.[18][19]
  • 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.


  • Hat Films parodied the song in their video "Filfy Mods – More Explosives (Willy Wonka Tribute)" and titled the parody "Pure Incineration".
  • John Legend parodied the song as "Flavorful Hydration" in a commercial for Bai Fruit Water.[20]


  1. ^ "Stories of Standards: "Pure Imagination"". KUVO.
  2. ^ a b Riedel, Michael (30 August 2016). "Gene Wilder's most famous song was originally a dud". New York Post.
  3. ^ a b "Why Has 'Pure Imagination' Been Covered So Many Times?". WNYC Studios. 22 October 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Geddes, James (31 August 2016). "'Pure Imagination' By Gene Wilder From 'Willy Wonka' Hits iTunes Chart 45 Years After Initial Release". Tech Times.
  5. ^ a b Zellner, Xander (7 September 2016). "'Pure Imagination' Streams Increase 1,061% After Gene Wilder's Death". Billboard. Archived from the original on 10 September 2016.
  6. ^ Hines, Ree (31 August 2016). "Coldplay performs touching Gene Wilder tribute with 'Pure Imagination'". Today.
  7. ^ http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/epm/337?q=Monty%20Alexander&search=quick&pos=2&_start=1#firsthit%7C[dead link]
  8. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20141204005541/http://www.crisscrossjazz.com/album/1163.html
  9. ^ Inc., Nick Zlonis, Figureground. "Dialect Fluorescent – Steve Lehman – Pi Recordings". pirecordings.com.
  10. ^ "Primus Visit Wonka's Chocolate Factory With 'Pure Imagination' Cover".
  11. ^ Roberts, Randall (13 September 2013). "Fiona Apple covers Willy Wonka in striking new Chipotle clip". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  12. ^ "Fiona Apple – Chart history | Billboard". Billboard. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ "Oscars 2014: Read Lupita Nyong'o's gorgeous acceptance speech that made Cumberbatch cry". 3 March 2014. Archived from the original on 4 March 2014.
  15. ^ "READY PLAYER ONE - Come With Me". Youtube.
  16. ^ "Ready Player One Come With Me Trailer Song Music Soundtrack Theme Song". Youtube.
  17. ^ "'Supergirl' recap: Kara hosts an awkward girls' night". EW.com. 31 October 2017. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  18. ^ Schmidt, Joseph (4 November 2017). "'Thor: Ragnarok' Has A Willy Wonka Easter Egg". Comicbook.com.
  19. ^ Armitage, Hugh (25 October 2017). "12 amazing Easter eggs from Thor: Ragnarok". Digital Spy.
  20. ^ "Bai - Flavorful Hydration". Youtube.

External linksEdit