I would be lying if I tell you Mariah Carey was well known in France when Music Box was released in 1993. She was pretty much the opposite of a star – none of her albums charted, she received no certification and only one of her singles made the Top 20, I’ll Be There, mostly thanks to the original Jackson 5 song being famous.
Music Box wasn’t an out of the blue hit either. It charted at #37 and then #39 in September before dropping out several months. Lead single, Dreamlover, did even worse charting only one week, at #49. In November, nothing. In December, nothing. In January, Carey was still nowhere to be seen. In February, again, nothing.
Time to move on to the next album? Luckily for her, the album was selling bucketloads in various countries so naturally singles continued to be issued. That’s why Hero came out, in March. Charting 24-13-8-7-5 and sticking inside the Top 10 for 16 weeks, the singer finally had a hit on her hands. As expected in such a case, the album quickly responded by re-entering and quickly climbing 34-38-14-7.
After four years of struggle, the situation completely changed within’ a month. The seven weeks spell inside the Top 10 for the album can be regarded as a miracle giving the previous background. In reality, it was only the first signals of how big this record was going to be.
Shortly after Hero peak, third single Without You was launched and took France by storm. It never reached #1, being blocked at #2 for five weeks by Youssou N’Dour & Neneh Cherry groundbreaking hit 7 Seconds. In fact, Carey still never got to #1 as of this day in France. But Without You was massive regardless, remaining 17 weeks inside the Top 5 and leaving it barely because the physical single was ultimately deleted.
Going up and up, the album was #2 by July, being topped only by Francis Cabrel gigantic Samedi Soir Sur La Terre during four weeks. One month later the album was back at #2, this time overshadowed by Happy Nation, the Ace Of Base blockbuster.
When it seemed Music Box would suffer the same fate than Without You, the album made it to the top for one week in mid-September just ahead of its previous two challengers. Francis Cabrel had the last word yet as it blocked her for three further weeks afterwards. All those weeks fairly high on charts, including during the Christmas season, led the set to unexpected sales.
While it took 10 months to reach Gold status, the album only required 8 more to be Diamond. By June 1996, a year after the end of the album promotion, the record had sold 1,2 million copies and follow up record Daydream was up to 500,000 units. Catalog sales for this album have been rather bad yet, especially since 1998 best of album Ones was issued.
Net shipment as of the end of 2015 is estimated at 1,290,000 copies.
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Sources: SNEP, Nielsen, IFOP, L’Express.