Growing up I loved two movies; The Goonies and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Recently I started singing the awesome song Pure Imagination and went to Youtube to listen.
There is the original from the movie, which has talking and sounds effects. But there also seemed to be many others.
This post is simply my search to find the best version of Pure Imagination. Because I saw it in the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory I may be biased towards versions similar to the one in the movie. I don’t know if that was the original, but it is to me. The videos were not watched so they have no influence.
Below are 21 different versions and I rate them all out of 10 and add a little note. They all have their own vibe so I recommend checking some of them out, besides the winner at the bottom. There area also more instrumental and acoustic versions on Youtube which I was too tired to review.
Of course the start was the original from the film. The talking and sound effects means it can only get a 7/10, hence the following search for a perfect version. My favorite version is the final one at the bottom of the page. This one is the best if you are watching the video at the same time.
Lou Rawls – Nice voice but this was not music to my ears, I am a big fan of sould but this was just wrong 5/10
will.i.am & Jermain Jackman sing – This was just wrong on so many levels 4/10
Maroon 5 – This was kind of going OK, bit bland. But then there was a crappy soft rock guitar solo and the ending was awful, just dragging it out with electronic loop. 5/10
Jamie Cullum – pretentious prittle prattle. The piano solo halfway through was beautiful, but he went too far. This was almost disrespect-able to the original 5/10
Jacob Collier – Interesting concept which was out of tune and so painful to listen to that I didn’t make it to the end. 2/10
ONE LAST MAP – Voice didn’t fit and the song was emotionless. This is another case of the artist being arrogant in my opinion. 4/10
Primus – Prepare to turn your volume down. This is some kind of arty crap. In fact this one doesn’t even deserve to be embedded here 0/10. Utter rubbish.
Kelly Hall-Tompkins – This instrumental version is stunning. It is rather violin-heavy for my taste. This would be the version to use at a cocktail party. 7/10
Stylophonic – This electro remix uses old samples to create a dance version of the song. It seemed to have promised but ultimately it fails miserably. 3/10
Helen Marshall – A lovely version on an acoustic guitar with no vocals. Ideal for restaurant or background music 7/10
USC Chamber Singers – This one is sung by a choir simply backed up by a piano. There are some fantastic harmonies, but no goose bumps, so 8/10
Hideaki Hori – A delightful jazzy instrumental version. This is the classiest one, ideal for a 5 star hotel lobby, but not quite the emotion needed for home listening. 7/10
Bob James – An upbeat version with a 70s vibe, almost disco. Instrumental but the musicianship and arrangement is awesome. It goes on a bit and left me a little empty by the end. Should of been 2 minutes shorter. 7/10
Rebecca Trehearn – Excellent version, with a bleak vibe, which doesn’t really suit the lyrics of the song. It sounds very good, but it doesn’t inspire my imagination. 7/10
Anthony Newley – A strong, solid rendition but lacks the magic of the original 7/10
At this stage I was getting very tired so I was ignoring or quickly quicking back on many instrumental versions.
Harry Connick, Jr – This is a “croning” version i.e. like Frank Sinatra. This style suits the song well. It is mixed in with the Candy Man song, therefore doesn’t get a rating. It is worth a listen though.
and the winner for best version of Pure Imagination is:
Gene Wilder – This is the version from the original soundtrack. Nothing compares. I actually found myself missing some of the sound effects from the movie version, but this is the one, the winner. Soft, highs, lows and uplifting. The movie version above is also worth watching for the video and additional sounds effects. 10/10
Update August 2017: The video has been deleted. I guess you will just have to scroll back to the top to enjoy the one from the movie. I had to delete 5 of the videos on this page in August 2017, as they have all been removed from Youtube. It is a real shame the songs rights owner is not allowing other people to sing and share this song.