France best selling albums ever: The Immaculate Collection by Madonna (1990)

The Immaculate Collection by Madonna

Many artists released compilations more comprehensive and richer than The Immaculate Collection hits package by Madonna, issued in 1990. Not many of those compilations have been as iconic as this one, however. The naming, the cover and obviously, the songs, are the perfect reflection of one of the biggest phenomenons of the 80s.

Given its incredible success elsewhere and the huge success got by the artist in France during the 80s – at some point in August 1987 she had a record of 4 albums charting inside the Top 10 together. However, The Immaculate Collection’s impact in France was pretty disappointing initially.

Whilst charts for compilation albums are not relevant for the year 1990, certifications of this set were initially pretty low. It only achieved Gold status in its release year, reached 2xGold (200,000) in 1991 and Platinum (300,000) in 1992, representing 100,000 yearly sales.

In spite of low chart performance, the album continued to sell well over the years, managing a second Platinum award in June 1997. After the initial run, the album waited quietly in the wings until the year 2000 which saw the release of Madonna’s new studio album, Music and a single enter the charts. Peaking at #4 in 2000, #23 in 2001 and #15 in 2002, this compilation was seriously closing in the million mark.

The only question is, when was this million reached? If you follow the previous link, you will notice it was certified on September, 27 of 2005. Warner label albums have been certified by batches for a very long time in France. In fact, on that 27/9/2005 date, no less than 22 albums from the label were certified, including six albums over 2 years old. This means the certification wasn’t date specific.

In 2004, Warner albums received 24 certifications, all on the dates 21/9/2004 and 14/12/2004. All albums certified were 2003/2004 releases, meaning the label hasn’t audited its catalog in that year. In 2003, over 30 certifications arrived, but only one for a catalog album, Seal’s eponymous album, but that happened at the same time as Seal IV’s certification. Thus, again, Warner hasn’t audited its catalog in 2003.

We need to go back to November 2002 to notice 16 Warner albums certified including 4 catalog products. This audit included Madonna’s own album Music as well as one of their other big selling compilation albums, Hits by Phil Collins. More albums had been certified in May of that year as well. Without doubt, The Immaculate Collection was under the million mark by November 2002 and reached it anytime from that date to September 2005.

As per GFK, the record sold 50,000 units in that timeframe. To reduce the margin of error, one may assume the midway point meaning 1,025,000 copies sold by 9/2005. From there until the end of 2008 an additional 40,000 copies have been sold. After 2009, with a new compilation Celebration released, sales of The Immaculate Collection dropped drastically, selling a mere 20,000 units since this point.

Net shipment as of the end of 2015 is estimated at 1,085,000 copies.

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

Sources: SNEP, Nielsen, IFOP, GFK.

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