France best selling albums ever:
666.667 Club by Noir Désir (1996)

After almost one decade of growing popularity, Noir Désir broke over the main audience with 1996 album 666.667 Club. 

Already a major force within’ rock fans, the group built a strong following thanks to heavy touring and huge albums in early 90s. The best evidence of this raise in fame was their 1994 live record Dies Irae which shot to #1 on its debut week.

This Metallica-like trajectory concluded in a Black Album-like success. Debuting at #3 on a truncated time frame, 666.667 Club moved to #1 on its first full week of sales. If the lead single Un Jour En France never charted, it was on heavy rotation on all rock-related stations becoming a real classic tune. This supported the album extremely well as it remained 12 consecutive weeks inside the Top 10 including the full Christmas season.

Barely dropping to #12 for a week, it climbed back into the top tier after the first spins of second hit A Ton Etoile plus a few awards nominations. Both singles maintained 666.667 Club on Charts – a Top 50 at the time – until early June drop out.

Had the era been closed by then, the LP would have been considered a strong success still. It wasn’t over yet with third single coming out, L’Homme Pressé. Obviously, the #15 position reached in the Singles Chart was great but it was utterly irrelevant in comparison to the generational anthem the song turned out to be. Suddenly, the album re-entered charts and improved week after week until reaching #6. It also secured a Top 50 placing continuously until April 1998 thanks to the ongoing airplay of all three hits.

Hitting 600,000 units – 2xPlatinum – in November 1997, the set was up to 770,000 copies sold by the end of 1998. Universally acclaimed and owner of two huge classic songs, the album logically continued to sell well and it wasn’t the smash of 2001 follow up record Des Visages et Des Figures which was going to change that. Thus, 666.667 Club went #61 in 1999, #51 in 2001 and #34 in early 2002. At the same time, it was also awarded an IFPI Platinum disc for more than 1 million units sold in Europe. Although Noir Désir was breaking markets like Italy and Netherlands then, it wasn’t the case in 1996 when even their Belgian and Swiss sales were proportionally lower than their French ones. With 120,000 estimated sales abroad, this leaves out 880,000 copies sold in France.

Breakdown per period detailed below.

  • 2002-S2-2004: 25,000
  • 2005: 15,000
  • 2006-2007: 20,000
  • 2008-2010: 20,000
  • 2011-2016: 25,000
  • 2/3CD boxes: 20,000

Thus, thanks to back catalog sales, 666.667 Club joins the Club of million sellers.

Net shipment as of the end of 2016 is estimated at 1,005,000 copies.

As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!

Sources: SNEP, IFOP, GFK, IFPI.

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