France best selling albums ever:
Mademoiselle Chante… by Patricia Kaas (1988)

Patricia Kaas

Although she was only 20 when this first major single was released, Patricia Kaas was already quite experienced on singing efforts. The various local shows she did increased her reputation and led the artist to meet one of the most successful authors of the 80s, Didier Barbelivien.

In mid 1987, she issued a first song written by Barbelivien, Mademoiselle Chante Le Blues. The song slowly gained traction, ultimately peaking at #7 in January 1988, some 9 month after the original release of the single. A second song, D’Allemagne, was released and peaked (#11) during the summer while the album was still unavailable. It was finally released along with her third single, the second classic from the album after her debut hit, Mon Mec A Moi.

Considering the amount of success accumulated by singles one could though the album was going to debut big. It was certified Gold (100,000 units shipped) upon release but still debuted only at #19 in November 1988. Patricia Kaas was still not a big enough name to compete with the largest sellers in the highly competitive Christmas period. It still performed quite well by charting #6 in the final chart of the year – although charts were delayed and are noted as being from January 1989.

Once the rush was over yet the album climbed all the way to the very first positions, up to #2 during the month of January, blocked by massive Dire Straits compilation Money For Nothing. It was the beginning of an extensive, immaculate chart run. By the end of February, the album was already on 300,000 units sold. The single Mon Mec A Moi was doing wonders, ranking at #5 in the Singles Chart and sustaining the album strongly.

In March / April, both records started to slow down. It was temporary yet as Elle Voulait Jouer Cabaret took over the promotion from May. While the song peaked at an unimpressive #17 position, it boosted the album from #20 in April to #2 during the summer, achieving a second 1-month spell at this position. This time she had to settle for runner up position due to Johnny Hallyday hit album Cadillac. The promotion kept rolling and fifth single Quand Jimmy Dit (#10) maintained the album firmly inside the Top 5 during the fourth quarter of the year. In November she was runner up again, behind the top seller of the year, Francis Cabrel album Sarbacane.

The fact she lost the battle for the top spot numerous times is not only a lack of chance. The album was very solid all year long but never sold record breaking amounts within’ a few weeks. This explains why it was still short of the million mark, more precisely on 870,000 units by the end of 1989 despite 14 months of impressive chart showing.

By early 1990, the promotion of this album was ending but Patricia Kaas popularity was going to be incredible for several more years. The continuous radio airplay of the five successful singles stabilized the album all year long. It dropped very slowly – Top 5 in January, Top 10 in February, Top 15 in March, Top 50 in April… Release of follow up album Scène De Vie. With spotlights set on the artist again, Mademoiselle Chante… jumped back to #14 and the slow decreases started again.

Except for one month due to heavy October release schedule, the album constantly remained into the Top 50 until April 1991, some two years and a half after the initial release.

Selling some 330,000 copies in 1990, the album was up to 1,5 million copies worldwide at the end of the year. This figure included some 300,000 units abroad. While this is already a strong showing in foreign countries, Patricia Kaas had yet to fully penetrate export sales, a feat she definitely did with the follow up album.

The strong catalog sales managed during 1991 added 100,000 copies to the album. By May 1992, the singer was up to 4 million units with her first 3 albums, two studio sets plus one live record. One year later, the same albums had sold 4,5 millions units worldwide. Below are breakdowns of those figures:

23/05/1992 – over 4 million – breakdown total 4,075,000

  • Mademoiselle Chante…
    • France – 1,325,000
    • Exports – 350,000
  • Scène De Vie
    • France – 900,000
    • Exports – 900,000
  • Carnets De Scène (2CD Live)
    • France – 150,000 sets – 300,000 units
    • Exports – 150,000 sets – 300,000 units

22/05/1993 – over 4,5 million – breakdown total 4,525,000

  • Mademoiselle Chante…
    • France – 1,375,000
    • Exports – 400,000
  • Scène De Vie
    • France – 950,000
    • Exports – 1,000,000
  • Carnets De Scène (2CD Live)
    • France – 180,000 sets – 360,000 units
    • Exports – 220,000 sets – 440,000 units

The album added an estimated 75,000 units until the release of the best of album Rien Ne S’Arrête in 2001. It hasn’t been a big catalog seller since, never featuring on catalog charts, this being said estimates are on 40,000 copies for the last 15 years.

Net shipment as of the end of 2015 is estimated at 1,490,000 copies.

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

Sources: SNEP, Nielsen, IFOP, Billboard, L’Evènement Du Jeudi, Platine.

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