France best selling albums of the 90s

Bannière gagnante de stephane.vox

INTRODUCTION

It has now been one month since we entered into the 90s, I’m happy to have now complete that heavy period. An impressive total of 68 million sellers emerged during the biggest decade of sales ever. On following pages, we will do a second Summary after years 2000-2015, so again you will be presented with various rankings of bestselling Studio album, Foreign album, Female album etc. with short comments per section. Obviously, the comprehensive ranking of 90s bestsellers is also presented. Let’s go!

The Battle of the Sexes II

PER ACT TYPE

Female Albums

01 Céline Dion D’eux (1995) : 4 210 000
02 Lara Fabian Pure (1996) : 1 975 000
03 Céline Dion S’il Suffisait D’Aimer (1998) : 1 890 000
04 Soundtrack / Whitney Houston The Bodyguard (1992) : 1 720 000
05 Céline Dion Let’s Talk About Love (1997) : 1 610 000
06 Mylène Farmer L’Autre… (1991) : 1 420 000
07 Patricia Kaas Je Te Dis Vous (1993) : 1 340 000
08 Mariah Carey Music Box (1993) : 1 290 000
09 Dido No Angel (1999) : 1 250 000
10 Mylène Farmer Innamoramento (1999) : 1 140 000

If post-2000 list had only two French-born females inside the Top 10, the 90s list only has one, Patricia Kaas, herself born very close to Germany border. The list is massively dominated by Canada-related female singers with six albums inside the Top 10 including the complete Top 5 minus Bodyguard that could be removed from the list debating on you considering it a Whitney Houston album or not.

Ironically, that reproduces perfectly the Top Selling Female albums of the decade in the US which was dominated by Shania Twain, Alanis Morissette – both of which felt short of the million mark in France – a pair of Celine Dion  albums with Bodyguard somewhere in between.

Speaking about Dion, she is the clear winner of the decade. The all-time top seller D’Eux is the only 2-million seller, in fact, it sold over twice that number. The Canadian singer is also #3 and #5. Outside of this list (#14) she has a fourth million seller with Falling Into You.

There is three more females with multiple million sellers yet. Mylène Farmer leads the way with three including two in this Top 10, the other being Anamorphosée (#15). Patricia Kaas has two, Je Te Dis Vous (#7) and Scène De Vie (#13). The last with multiple million sellers is harder to guess as she fails to be featured in the Top 10, in fact Madonna is the one, with The Immaculate Collection (#12) and Ray Of Light (#16). The former album is the only female compilation over a million in the decade.

Some technicalities make it difficult to call for a top selling foreign album in the category. Bodyguard isn’t purely a female album. Let’s Talk About Love isn’t purely a foreign album. The first such releases with really no debate is Music Box by Mariah Carey. I’ll let anyone make his mind about which of those albums should be considered a female foreign album.

 

Fred's Photos

Band Albums

01 Louise Attaque Louise Attaque (1997) : 2 740 000
02 ABBA Gold – Greatest Hits (1992) : 1 810 000
03 Manau Panique Celtique (1998) : 1 780 000
04 Nirvana Nevermind (1991) : 1 665 000
05 The Cranberries No Need To Argue (1994) : 1 540 000
06 Queen Greatest Hits II (1991) : 1 520 000
07 Fredericks Goldman Jones Fredericks Goldman Jones (1990) : 1 420 000
08 Ace Of Base Happy Nation (1993) : 1 400 000
09 Dire Straits On Every Street (1991) : 1 330 000
10 Pow woW Regagner Les Plaines (1992) : 1 270 000

Although historically there haven’t been many big French bands, the Top 2 sellers of the decade are local acts. The clear winner, with a lead of almost 1 million and getting bigger and bigger, is the debut eponymous album of Louise Attaque, the best selling Rock album of all-time.

Others acts made massive impacts with their debut album like Manau (#3), Ace Of Base (#8) or Pow woW (#10), all of which failed to repeat this kind of success in later years. Ace Of Base isn’t the only Swedish group in the list as ABBA perennial seller Gold is the top selling compilation in this list, although Queen isn’t that much behind.

Several foreign Rock albums are part of the list like the Cranberries (#5) or Dire Straits (#9) but that was truly the decade of Nirvana. They not only got the top selling foreign album with Nevermind #3, but also the #2 selling live album of the decade with MTV Unplugged (#17) just under  AC/DC Live (#16). They are also the lone foreign act with two million sellers. Overall, Fredericks Goldman Jones did the trick too with the #7 and #15 album (Rouge) of the decade.

 

ícones

Male Albums

01 Francis Cabrel Samedi Soir Sur La Terre (1994) : 3 375 000
02 Andrea Bocelli Romanza (1997) : 2 850 000
03 Michael Jackson Dangerous (1991) : 2 175 000
04 Florent Pagny Savoir Aimer (1997) : 2 070 000
05 Johnny Hallyday Sang Pour Sang (1999) : 2 020 000
06 Francis Cabrel Hors-Saison (1999) : 1 900 000
07 Manu Chao Clandestino (1998) : 1 810 000
08 Jean-Jacques Goldman Singulier (1996) : 1 740 000
09 Elton John The Very Best Of (1990) : 1 730 000
10 Michael Jackson HIStory (1995) : 1 675 000

Just like the previous two lists, there is one obvious winner in the male category. Francis Cabrel was all over the place during that decade and his two studio albums issued in that span end up as the #1 and #6 top sellers.

The latter is only #6 due to a massive competition – 1,9 million sales would have been enough for a Top 3 placing in both Female and Bands lists. Andrea Bocelli has the best selling non French/English album ever in the country, while Manu Chao has the best selling Spanish (mostly) record. After being featured in the Band list, the singer Jean-Jacques Goldman make the male list as well. Just like he had two million sellers as part of the trio, he has two solo with Singulier #8 and En Passant #14.

Giving the number of sales needed to be in this top 10, it isn’t surprising to see only one act aside Cabrel making it twice. The surprising fact is that this act is a foreign one. Michael Jackson is #3 and #10 overall, #1 and #3 among English-speaking albums. Except GoldmanCabrel and Jackson, several more singers recorded multiple million sellers. Florent Pagny is #4 and #11 (Bienvenue Chez Moi), Alain Souchon #13 (C’Est Déjà Ca) and #17 (Au Ras Des Pâquerettes).

The top compilation is either Romanza, if considered a compilation, or The Very Best Of by Elton John. Just like with bands, the only million selling live album is from a foreign act, Serious Hits… Live by Phil Collins.

 

Image from page 34 of "Prickly Pear, The" (1916)

Various Artists / Concept Albums

01 Musical Notre-Dame De Paris (1998) : 2 825 000
02 Era Era (1997) : 2 180 000
03 Soundtrack / Whitney Houston The Bodyguard (1992) : 1 720 000
04 Soundtrack / James Horner Titanic (1997) : 1 690 000
05 Jean-Philippe Audin & Diego Modena Ocarina (1991) : 1 290 000
06 Musical Notre-Dame De Paris (Intégrale) (1998) : 1 165 000
07 Soundtrack The Lion King (1994) : 1 080 000
08 André Rieu Valses (1997) : 1 080 000
09 Soundtrack Pulp Fiction (1994) : 1 060 000

The 90s have been full of strong instrumental releases, soundtracks and musicals. Enough to almost complete a Top 10 of million sellers despite that strict “compilations” being excluded from this study. Again, there is an uncontested #1 with Notre-Dame De Paris smash. This musical is obviously the leader but also #6 with the live version of the show.

The Eric Lévi project Era was utterly, surpassing by very far the first such kind of project, Enigma, that was close to feature on this list too. A pair of instrumental albums passed the million mark but their lead artists ended up with very different trajectories. If André Rieu kept accumulating Gold and Platinum records, Jean-Philippe Audin & Diego Modena disappeared as fast as they first come in.

In the soundtracks side, two of them were huge #1 albums, Bodyguard and Titanic. I have put Bodyguard on both Female and Multi-Artists lists as it is up to anyone to decide where to put it. Titanic features obviously a famous female singer too, as Celine Dion was the vocalist of the only single from the record. The Elton John led soundtrack Lion King is up there too, while the rich and diverse compilation of songs that is Pulp Fiction benefited from strong catalog sales to join this elite group.

 

Louise Attaque

PER ALBUM TYPE

Debut Albums

01 Louise Attaque Louise Attaque (1997) : 2 825 000
02 Era Era (1997) : 2 180 000
03 Manu Chao Clandestino (1998) : 1 720 000
04 Manau Panique Celtique (1998) : 1 690 000
05 Fredericks Goldman Jones Fredericks Goldman Jones (1990) : 1 420 000
06 Ace of Base Happy Nation (1993) : 1 400 000
07 Jean-Philippe Audin & Diego Modena Ocarina (1991) : 1 290 000
08 Pow woW Regagner Les Plaines (1992) : 1 270 000
09 Dido No Angel (1999) : 1 250 000
10 Spice Girls Spice (1996) : 1 080 000

Strong overall market is great but it is not always a good context to breakthrough when we are newcomers. Some still made a big impact, most notably Louise Attaque.

Several of those acts had a parallel career before, this includes Manu Chao on Mano Negra band, Fredericks Goldman Jones who followed footsteps of Jean-Jacques Goldman, while Era was a project by Eric Lévi that had several bands before. This highlights even more the Louise Attaque splash as they really came out of nowhere.

ManauAce Of Base and the Spice Girls did the same too, breaking the main audience within’ a few months. The only two acts that repeated the million sales with their sophomore effort are Manu Chao and Fredericks Goldman Jones, very precisely the two most popular before those new acts brands, showing that established acts are not established for nothing, they really are pretty popular overall, not relying on hype only.

 

last.fm

Best Of Albums

01 ABBA Gold – Greatest Hits (1992) : 1 810 000
02 Jean-Jacques Goldman Singulier (1996) : 1 740 000
03 Elton John The Very Best Of (1990) : 1 730 000
04 Florent Pagny Bienvenue Chez Moi (1995) : 1 550 000
05 Queen Greatest Hits II (1991) : 1 520 000
06 Supertramp The Very Best Of (1990) : 1 230 000
07 U2 Best Of 1980-1990 (1998) : 1 210 000
08 Lionel Richie Back To Front (1992) : 1 180 000
09 Madonna The Immaculate Collection (1990) : 1 085 000
10 Barry White Ultimate Collection (1999) : 1 065 000

Incredibly, there is only two French albums in this list. One of them tops the list yet. Jean-Jacques Goldman solidify his domination of the French music scene by sitting at #2. Although sales are close, as Singulier is also easily the biggest catalog seller as of today from this list its position is not in danger at all. Florent Pagny presence is also easily predictable as he strongly marked the mid-90s with a string of very successful songs.

Compilations from ABBA and Queen are still going strong, being favorites to be higher and higher in the long term. In terms of ranking and sales for Queen but in terms of sales only for ABBA as they already lead the category! Most of those compilations sold for about a decade only before being replaced by more recent hits packages. Some of them, like Elton John Very Best Of or Supertramp Very Best Of, are completely deleted as of now.

A word must be said about both Andrea Bocelli and Michael Jackson. Technically, Romanza is a compilation as it contains songs from the artist past albums. Those songs were first issued in 1997 along with Romanza yet, so this album was, from a French point of view, a fully new album.

Similarly, while HIStory by Michael Jackson contains a best of like CD, the other CD is made of completely new songs that were released just like any other studio album.  They would be #1 and #4 respectively on the list if one decide to include them.

Live Albums

01 Phil Collins Serious Hits… Live (1990) : 1 230 000
02 Musical Notre-Dame De Paris (Intégrale) (1998) : 1 165 000
03 AC/DC Live (1992) : 1 155 000
04 Nirvana Unplugged In New-York (1994) : 1 100 000

A lot has been said about Live album sales of some divas like Céline Dion, Mylène Farmer or Patricia Kaas. While several live albums did sell a million copies, none of those female acts made this accomplishment.

One of the four winners is the complete set of Notre-Dame De Paris, quite logical if one consider it has been the biggest live show of the decade in France. The other three are all foreign artists lives. Why did they sell so many copies? The answer is pretty easy. In fact, all those three live albums were the closest record to a compilation available in the market for their respective acts.

Serious Hits… Live came in 8 years before Hits, Live was released 18 years before Iron Man soundtrack that is the first best of-like album by AC/DC, while Unplugged In New-York was released 8 years before the eponymous greatest hits of Nirvana.

It must also be noted that the norm is to release a live album following a successful LP from 18 to 24 months after the studio album. It certainly helps Phil Collins case that Serious Hits… Live came in a mere 11 months after But Seriously smash when the hype was still well alive.

 

Influence Mapping

English Albums

01 Michael Jackson Dangerous (1991) : 2 175 000
02 ABBA Gold – Greatest Hits (1992) : 1 625 000
03 Elton John The Very Best Of (1990) : 1 730 000
04 Soundtrack / Whitney Houston The Bodyguard (1992) : 1 720 000
05 Soundtrack / James Horner Titanic (1997) : 1 690 000
06 Michael Jackson HIStory (1995) : 1 675 000
07 Nirvana Nevermind (1991) : 1 665 000
08 Céline Dion Let’s Talk About Love (1997) : 1 610 000
09 The Cranberries No Need To Argue (1994) : 1 540 000
10 Queen Greatest Hits II (1991) : 1 520 000

If only six English-speaking albums passed the million mark after 2000, a massive 32 albums issued during the 90s did the trick. If all albums from #2 to #10 are quite close, Michael Jackson blockbuster album Dangerous is easily the winner of the decade.

The ranking includes three big hits packages from early 90s (ABBA 1992, Elton John 1990, Queen 1991) as well as a fourth compilation that is also a studio album, HIStory. Michael Jackson is not the only one with two million sellers yet, Celine Dion did it too even focusing on her English efforts, so did Nirvana and Madonna.

The biggest debut is Ace Of Base album Happy Nation that is only #11 in this list, this is a trademark of how difficult it is for foreign acts to break a widespread audience in France. Another evidence of that is the fact that aside from Michael Jackson, the Top 5 is completely dominated by soundtracks.

In fact, Elton John compilation The Very Best Of received a major boost from Lion King success, it wouldn’t be featuring that high without this push. Although France is a developed countries, the place of movie theaters among culture has always been more open than music radio stations, reaching more people than foreign music albums. This phenomenon is more and more true when you reach countries less exposed like Asian or South American countries, were historically soundtracks always did much better than artist albums.

Non English/French Albums

01 Andrea Bocelli Romanza (1997) : 2 850 000
02 Era Era (1997) : 2 180 000
03 Manu Chao Clandestino (1998) : 1 810 000

Selling 1 million copies of an album that is not sung in French or in English is tough, let alone reaching the highs of this trio of incredible success stories. All three is nothing less than Top 15 in the overall list of the decade. After this pack there is a big hole as no other Italian / Spanish record made it to the million plateau.

 

STATISTICS

  • Total number of million sellers: 68
  • Total number of acts with million sellers: 49
  • Total number of foreign million sellers: 36
  • Total number of two-million sellers: 9
  • Multiple million sellers: Celine Dion (4), Mylène Farmer (3), Francis CabrelMichael Jackson, Nirvana, Fredericks Goldman Jones, Jean-Jacques Goldman, Alain Souchon, Florent Pagny, Patricia Kaas (2)
  • Youngest act: Ace Of Base, 21/22
  • Oldest act: Johnny Hallyday, 56
Per Year
  • 1990 – 6
  • 1991 – 7
  • 1992 – 5
  • 1993 – 5
  • 1994 – 6
  • 1995 – 4
  • 1996 – 7
  • 1997 – 10
  • 1998 – 8
  • 1999 – 10

FRANCE BEST SELLING 1990-1999 ALBUMS


01 Céline Dion D’eux (1995) : 4 210 000
02 Francis Cabrel Samedi Soir Sur La Terre (1994) : 3 375 000
03 Andrea Bocelli Romanza (1997) : 2 850 000
04 Musical Notre-Dame De Paris (1998) : 2 825 000
05 Louise Attaque Louise Attaque (1997) : 2 740 000
06 Era Era (1997) : 2 180 000
07 Michael Jackson Dangerous (1991) : 2 175 000
08 Florent Pagny Savoir Aimer (1997) : 2 070 000
09 Johnny Hallyday Sang Pour Sang (1999) : 2 020 000
10 Lara Fabian Pure (1996) : 1 975 000
11 Francis Cabrel Hors-Saison (1999) : 1 900 000
12 Céline Dion S’il Suffisait D’Aimer (1998) : 1 890 000
13 Manu Chao Clandestino (1998) : 1 810 000
13 ABBA Gold – Greatest Hits (1992) : 1 625 000
15 Manau Panique Celtique (1998) : 1 780 000
16 Jean-Jacques Goldman Singulier (1996) : 1 740 000
17 Elton John The Very Best Of (1990) : 1 730 000
18 Soundtrack / Whitney Houston The Bodyguard (1992) : 1 720 000
19 Soundtrack / James Horner Titanic (1997) : 1 690 000
20 Michael Jackson HIStory (1995) : 1 675 000
21 Nirvana Nevermind (1991) : 1 665 000
22 Céline Dion Let’s Talk About Love (1997) : 1 610 000
23 Florent Pagny Bienvenue Chez Moi (1995) : 1 550 000
24 Patrick Bruel Juste Avant (1999) : 1 540 000
25 The Cranberries No Need To Argue (1994) : 1 540 000
26 Queen Greatest Hits II (1991) : 1 520 000
27 Alain Souchon C’Est Déjà Ca (1993) : 1 460 000
28 Jean-Jacques Goldman En Passant (1997) : 1 460 000
29 Fredericks Goldman Jones Fredericks Goldman Jones (1990) : 1 420 000
30 Mylène Farmer L’Autre… (1991) : 1 420 000
31 Ace of Base Happy Nation (1993) : 1 400 000
32 Pascal Obispo Superflu (1996) : 1 340 000
33 Patricia Kaas Je Te Dis Vous (1993) : 1 340 000
34 Dire Straits On Every Street (1991) : 1 330 000
35 Jean-Philippe Audin &Diego Modena Ocarina (1991) : 1 290 000
36 Mariah Carey Music Box (1993) : 1 290 000
37 Pow woW Regagner Les Plaines (1992) : 1 270 000
38 Dido No Angel (1999) : 1 250 000
39 IAM L’Ecole Du Micro D’Argent (1997) : 1 240 000
40 Alain Souchon Au Ras Des Pâquerettes (1999) : 1 230 000
41 Phil Collins Serious Hits… Live (1990) : 1 230 000
42 Supertramp The Very Best Of (1990) : 1 230 000
43 Emile & Images Jusqu’Au Bout De La Nuit (1999) : 1 220 000
44 Fugees The Score (1996) : 1 210 000
45 U2 Best Of 1980-1990 (1998) : 1 210 000
46 Fredericks Goldman Jones Rouge (1993) : 1 200 000
47 Lionel Richie Back To Front (1992) : 1 180 000
48 Musical Notre-Dame De Paris (Intégrale) (1998) : 1 165 000
49 AC/DC Live (1992) : 1 155 000
50 Mylène Farmer Innamoramento (1999) : 1 140 000
51 Moby Play (1999) : 1 130 000
52 Nirvana Unplugged In New-York (1994) : 1 100 000
53 Tina Arena In Deep (1997) : 1 090 000
54  Madonna The Immaculate Collection (1990) : 1 085 000
55 André Rieu Valses (1997) : 1 080 000
56 Soundtrack The Lion King (1994) : 1 080 000
57 Spice Girls Spice (1996) : 1 080 000
58 Barry White Ultimate Collection (1999) : 1 065 000
59 Patricia Kaas Scène De Vie (1990) : 1 060 000
60 Soundtrack Pulp Fiction (1994) : 1 060 000
61 Simon & Garfunkel The Definitive Simon & Garfunkel (1991) : 1 050 000
62 Céline Dion Falling Into You (1996) : 1 040 000
63 Richard Cocciante Compilation 74-94 (1994) : 1 040 000
64 Suprême NTM Suprême NTM (1998) : 1 030 000
65 Mylène Farmer Anamorphosée (1995) : 1 025 000
66 Madonna Ray Of Light (1998) : 1 015 000
67 Santana Supernatural (1999) : 1 000 000
68 Worlds Apart Everybody (1996) : 1 000 000

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

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x