Chart Beat

'Pure Imagination' Streams Increase 1,061% After Gene Wilder's Death

Gene Wilder

Gene Wilder in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" in 1971.   

The increase in sales & streams occurred after the "Willy Wonka" actor’s death on Aug. 29

In the days since the late actor Gene Wilder’s death on Aug. 29, sales and streams of “Pure Imagination” -- the song he made famous in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory -- have been on the rise.

Wilder’s original recording of “Pure Imagination” earned 239,000 domestic on-demand streams (audio and video) in the week following the actor’s death (week ending Sept. 1), marking a 1,061 percent gain from the previous week, where the song pushed 21,000 streams, according to Nielsen Music.

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“Pure Imagination” was first featured on the Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory soundtrack, released by Paramount Records in 1971. The album sold 2,000 copies in the week ending Sept. 1 -- a 1,093 percent gain from the previous week where it sold a negligible figure, marking the album’s best sales week since Nielsen Music began electronically tracking point-of-sale music purchases in 1991. In addition, the soundtrack re-enters the Soundtracks chart dated Sept. 17 at No. 4 -- its highest ranking on the 15-year-old chart.

Numerous covers of “Pure Imagination” also increased in streams in the week ending Sept. 1. Josh Groban’s rendition, which features Lindsey Stirling and The Muppets, was streamed 34,000 times, a 97 percent bump from the previous week when it collected 17,000 streams. The Glee cast version, released in 2011, was streamed 33,000 times, a 415 percent hike from the previous week where it earned 6,000 streams; and Fiona Apple’s cover, released in 2013, was streamed 14,000 times, a 100 percent increase from the previous week’s 7,000.

The song, which was written specifically for the 1971 movie, has been covered by many other artists, including Barbra Streisand on her new No. 1 Billboard 200 album Encore, Maroon 5, Mariah Carey and Lou Rawls.

Wilder’s version of “Pure Imagination” also hit No. 1 on Spotify’s Viral 50 chart dated Sept. 17, marking its first appearance on any Spotify chart.