France Album Sales: Mylène Farmer

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Anamorphosée (1995) Era

After very busy years from 1986 to 1992, Mylène Farmer avoided over exposure by taking a three years break. Her comeback with Anamorphosée in late October 1995 was once again big news.

Coming from back-to-back million selling albums, the bar of expectations was raised very high. Giving her popularity, the #1 position of lead single XXL isn’t even surprising. This result was a travesty yet. In fact, one more consequence of a truly dedicated fanbase is also to get a lot of free sales upon release, which is exactly what shot XXL to the top on its first week. The song was nowhere near as popular as previous leading single Désenchantée as while that one dominated charts for 9 weeks, this new song was way down to #34 after that time frame.

The lack of appeal from this song added to the hyper-mega-giga success of Celine Dion album D’Eux that year implied Anamorphosée had to settle at #2 position when first released, a situation that seemed impossible a few months earlier. What wasn’t a travesty was the incredible ability of Mylène Farmer to drop cult hits. While the album was freefalling, down to #11 after a mere three weeks inside the top tier, second single L’Instant X quickly rescued it. More than a small support, it increased the album position from #24 to #2. If you wonder who blocked her again four months after its debut, well, that was again Celine Dion with her D’Eux record.

Album down to #17 a few weeks later, new single – California -, new Top 10 hit – #7 -, new climb of the album – up to #5. The script was getting reproduced again and again. Fourth single Comme J’Ai Mal at #11 was the first regular single to miss the Top 10 since A Quoi Je Sers in 1989. It also failed to boost the album. Never doubt Mylène Farmer skills yet as fifth single Rêver became big. The #7 peak isn’t that impressive but it shot the album from outside of the Top 50 to #1, ultimately making the top. Ironically, it dislodged no other than Celine Dion who was leading the chart with Live A Paris, the live continuation of D’Eux.

Dropping out for good from the Top 50 in April 1997, the album still hadn’t cross the million mark due to the lack of high sales during key periods like Christmas. By the end of that year it had a healthy total of 910,000 units sold though.

Just like its two predecessors, the album collapsed from the ranking only when replaced by a Live / Remix record. This time it was Live A Bercy, a May 1997 release that went #3 upon release and #2 the following week. With 18 weeks Top 10 and 28 weeks Top 20 its longevity was incredible for a live release. The point to understand is that Mylène Farmer was up to three utterly successful albums plus a fourth one with hit singles and still no compilation released. Containing as many as 9 top 10 singles, this live album  was a real greatest hits package. This explains how that album sold 625,000 units by the end of 1998, an unbelievable 70% of its related studio album. Among myths created around the artist sales, one of the most repeated is that Live A Bercy is the best selling live album ever in France. If the success of this release is undeniable, that claim is a real nonsense as various live records sold over 1 million units in France like Simon & Garfunkel Concert In Central Park, AC/DC Live, Nirvana Unplugged or Phil Collins Serious Hits Live. Within’ the French language live sets, Celine Dion has two ahead of Live A Bercy, while the biggest one is En Public by Jean-Jacques Goldman at 990,000 units.

None of her previous albums re-entered charts during this era although they sold some copies obviously.

Top 5 Most Streamed Tracks on Spotify
  1. California – 736,000
  2. XXL – 397,000
  3. Rêver – 381,000
  4. Comme J’Ai Mal – 361,000
  5. L’Instant X – 293,000

16 thoughts on “France Album Sales: Mylène Farmer”

  1. Hi dear MJD !!!

    Congratulations again for the website and also for the analysis carried for France Album Sales of Mylène Farmer.
    Then I would like to know if this week you analyze some singer or group, maybe you will analyze the CSPC of the Rolling Stones !!!

    1. Hello Anthony,

      I won’t kill the fun by saying who it concerns, but yes a CSPC analysis is ongoing! Not sure it will be of most interest for you as it is about a recent solo act 😉

      The Rolling Stones CSPC article will come out at the same time as their new album!

      1. Of course dear MJD, I believe will be analized one of Drake, Sia, Alicia Keys and Robbie Williams. Then I’m interested in all the artists that you analyze, it is true, I have my preferences for the groups and for the music of the 60 ‘, 70’, 80 ‘ but I am a lover of records sold for each artist as their own you !!!

  2. These articles are great. Thank you so much. Concerning the quantity of albums sold worldwide, I heard like 30 mio. Correct, possible ?

    1. Hello Florence!

      Thanks for your nice words! There is many legends about Mylène Farmer album sales in various countries like Japan but most of them are false. For example, in that specific country where she is supposed to be a superstar as per various French Medias, she never entered the Top 300 Album Chart.

      She did break into Russian market, but ironically that’s a small one, very few legal copies are sold there. Of course, there is French-speaking countries outsold France where she did sell some records. Innamoramento got certified for 200,000 units sold abroad in late 2001, when it had topped 1 million in France. If we follow that pattern that would mean about two and a half million sold elsewhere, while going deeper into analysis would provide better results, from 2 to 3 million is likely the correct ballpark.

      At 14-15 million, we are still very far from 30 million. Claims are often made on cumulative record sales yet. Adding 7 to 8 million singles – again, would require deeper analysis – a couple of million music videos plus digital sales plus duplicating all discs sales like Les Mots which is a 2CD set, we get close to 30 million overall. As I often stated though, while this is an efficient communication trick, I don’t think all sales of all formats are worth being added together without weighting properly each type of record.

  3. it is safe to say that she is the 2nd best selling female in france after celine dion right?
    btw off the top of your head how many male singers sold more than celine in france? i assume johnny hallyday, jean jacques goldman for sure, anyone else?

    1. Hi Pat!

      I assume you refer to album sales. Hallyday is safely ahead, Michel Sardou too. Then both Goldman and Cabrel are close enough to require additional study in order to rank them. If you include singles, the later has no chance though.

      Indeed, among female singers, Celine and Mylène are at 1/2 in terms of album sales!

      1. yes i was referring to albums and i thought of cabrel and sardou but didn’t think they would be close or in sardou’s case way ahead. i need to look at sardou’s discography closer. i can’t wait for their sales in france posts.
        man your work is fantastic, for anyone who loves numbers and putting numbers in perspective, this is heaven!!

    1. Hello Djouahra!

      I mentioned from 2 to 3 million, which isn’t exactly the same thing 😀

      She sold routinely 8-10% of her French sales in Belgium, some 3-5% is Switzerland and about the same in Germany / Netherlands / Scandinavia. Using the average for each area, this brings 17% of 12 million additional sales, which equals to slightly more than 2 million.

      Then, one need to consider her sales in Russia – some recent albums sold as much as 10% of their French sales there – and the few units she sold in the likes Canada or Japan. All in all, that will sum up to around 2,5 million. As it involves shares calculations rather than albums-specific estimates, I prefered sticking with a ballpark, e.g. 2 to 3 million 😉

  4. OMG big fan of Mylene here.. I’ve always wondered how she marketed herself and stayed relevant all these years especially 2006 onward as not much controversy has been issued from her-probably her loyal fans. But I was wondering if you could do an analysis on her former protege Alizee. Her debut single/ album was monster and her sophomore album did pretty fine but when she left the Farmer/ boutonnat machine- it was pretty much over.

    1. scratch that with Alizee-actually please do an analysis of Laurent Boutonnat- it seems as every French artist he in a sense creates turned to gold – Mylene, Nathalie Cardone, Alizee…

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