James the Fifth Reimagines a Cinema Classic with His Cover of “Pure Imagination”

James the Fifth Reimagines a Cinema Classic with His Cover of “Pure Imagination”

With a return to music, L.A.’s James the Fifth (AKA James Thomer) reimagines a classic Hollywood performance with his instrumental version of “Pure Imagination” performed by Gene Wilder in the original Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Thormer’s version is a melodic trip down memory lane with a soft overflow of harmonious and jazzy instrumentals tied together by an easy going melody. Influenced by the music he obsessed over during the 2020 pandemic, “Pure Imagination” is a calming nonverbal soliloquy in a time of confusion and stress.

Silvana Estrada The Ford

“Over the pandemic I got very into orchestral pop music of the 60s, like Henry Mancini or Franck Pourcel,” notes Thomer. “There was literally over a six month period where I comically listened to that almost exclusively. I enjoyed it because it was very relaxing music to listen to during a time of personal and political uncertainty, and it was also musically interesting; they were often really complex arrangements on top of simple songs I already knew — like the Beatles or Burt Bacharach. I listened to this so much, that at the end of last year my Spotify Wrapped listed “Lounge” as my top genre. So with Pure Imagination, I wanted to take that approach of reimagining a well-known song that’s already in everybody’s collective awareness, and insert some of my own sensibilities with the production and performance.”

The accompanying music video is where Thormer takes a step outside the box, donning a Mozart outfit, wig and makeup as he and four other versions of himself play different instruments surrounded by the sandy dunes of a desert. As Thormer’s friends call him and try to coax him to leave the desert and return to reality, he runs about the dunes distressed and upset, tearing off bits of his costume before finally raising an 18th century style gun to his head as the screen goes black.

Jaws of Love Residency silverlake lounge
Grimy Goods Presents

With “Pure Imagination” being a stand alone single release, James the Fifth is also planning on releasing a new album later this year and will perform in September. Stay tuned for the details!

Words: Patti Sanchez

For more information on James the Fifth and his upcoming music and performance, make sure to check out his Bandcamp page and to follow him on Twitter and Instagram.