In honor of Gene Wilder: Here are five great covers of 'Pure Imagination'

5 best covers of pure imagination gene wilder gthmb wonka jpg
Performers in the comedy, music, and acting worlds have been pouring out praise for actor Gene Wilder, who died Monday, in celebration of the life’s work of one of Hollywood’s brightest stars.

In honor of the late actor, many bands have started performing live covers of his most famous musical work, the song Pure Imagination from the movie Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory, which Wilder famously sung as Wonka while wearing a bright purple jacket.

We’ve picked our five favorite versions of Pure Imagination from the large pop-culture pile asa small eulogy to one of the finest entertainers to ever live.

Here are the top five covers of Pure Imagination:

Mariah Carey and Kayzie Bone

The most interesting take on the song we could find is a remix from Bone Thugs N’ Harmony’s Krayzie Bone that features a chorus from none other than Mariah Carey. An R&B single with smooth Carey-driven hooks, this version features rap choruses, harmonized vocals, and more.


Coldplay offered a brief cover of Pure Imagination to fans on their current tour, following the first news of Wilder’s passing. As star-shaped confetti flies, the band uses the lyrics and melody to finish off a song. It’s a touching tribute, which, although short, is extremely uplifting.

Fiona Apple

A creepy-crawly version of the classic Willy Wonka single that was manufactured by famed indie songstress Apple for Chipotle as part of an ad campaign, this take on Pure Imagination was designed to showcase the bad side of industrialized food culture. The song’s happy words are finally met with a cathartic change at the end of the video, in which — surprise, surprise — the corporation behind the ad makes everything happy again.


The cast of Glee provides a wonderfully layered version of the famed song, starting with an a capella introduction before the full group vocals fade in. It’s a take on the song that is well  harmonized and executed — and much less corny than many of the pop songs the group has covered over the years.

Josh Groban

Groban’s classic Broadway-tinged voice finds itself perfectly suited to the gentle story-like elements of the single. He crafts a slow-tempo version of the single that is powerful and uniquely his own.


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