France Best Selling Albums Ever

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INTRODUCTION

It has been 5 years since ChartMasters.org is online. It started with a large string of articles about the best selling albums of all-time in France, articles which served to created the comprehensive top sellers list.

Several years later, we are back on it to update all numbers and add albums which crossed the magical 1 million threshold.

From 175 albums as of the end of 2016, the tally of million sellers increases to 184 by the end of 2020.

The 9 new albums include only 1 album released during the last 4 years. Then, 7 more made it on the back of catalog sales while a last album was added thanks to new evidences of sales.

This article features various statistics and sub-lists as well as links to all original albums breakdowns. Please be aware most of those breakdowns have been posted several years ago, so their totals in said articles differ from this updated list since recent sales are newly added.

For clarification purpose, all figures relate to album sales in LPs, Cassette, CD or Download format but exclude streaming.

They include 2 and 3 boxes containing the related album in full but exclude 4+ boxes as it isn’t clear anymore that the purchaser explicity wanted to buy the said record. Figures aim to reflect net shipment as of the end of 2020.

Let’s go!

Art Battles at 120 W42nd

PER ACT TYPE



Band Albums

01 Louise Attaque Louise Attaque (1997) : 2 820 000
02 Queen Greatest Hits II (1991) : 2 580 000
03 Dire Straits Brothers in Arms (1985) : 2 050 000
04 ABBA Gold – Greatest Hits (1992) : 1 865 000
05 NirvanaNevermind (1991) : 1 820 000
06 Pink FloydDark Side Of The Moon (1973) : 1 790 000
07 Manau Panique Celtique (1998) : 1 785 000
08 QueenGreatest Hits (1981) : 1 715 000
09 Pink FloydThe Wall (1979) : 1 565 000
10 The Cranberries No Need To Argue (1994) : 1 555 000
11 The Beatles 1967-1970 (1973) : 1 505 000
12 Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here (1975) : 1 465 000
13 Fredericks Goldman Jones Fredericks Goldman Jones (1990) : 1 440 000
14 Ace Of Base Happy Nation (1993) : 1 405 000
15 EaglesHotel California (1976) : 1 390 000
16 The Beatles 1962-1966 (1973) : 1 375 000
17 Simon & GarfunkelGreatest Hits (1972) : 1 340 000
18 Kyo Le Chemin (2003) : 1 340 000
19 IAM L’Ecole du Micro d’Argent (1997) : 1 335 000
20 Dire Straits On Every Street (1991) : 1 335 000

A similar list of top sellers in the UK / US would be massively dominated by albums from bands, it is not the case in France yet.

Only three band albums ever sold over 1.9 million, thus all those albums do not occupy the very top spots of the comprehensive list which merges all albums.

Bands albums are still responsible for 46 albums which sales over 1 million units, which is a great showing.

French bands are also notably absent here with only two albums inside the Top 10 and five spread over the Top 20, which is a good illustration of the lack of massive selling local bands.

The worst thing is that one of these albums – Fredericks Goldman Jones – was mostly a solo album in the eyes of the public while the four other French albums came from acts that can be considered one-album wonders.

All those facts together just give even more credit to Louise Attaque eponymous debut album which destroys the competition.

It is both the highest selling debut album ever, the highest selling band album ever and the highest selling rock album ever. Well, not bad.

Foreign albums-wise, Dire Straits are #3 and #20, plus #32 with Money For Nothing, managing three million selling albums within’ a few years. They are not the only superstar international group in France though.

Indeed, Pink Floyd nearly put three albums inside the Top 10 as they sit at #6, #9 and #12.

The Beatles also dropped three million sellers, all compilations, with 1967-1970 #11, 1962-1966 #16 and lower down the chart 1 at #39.

Finally, Simon & Garfunkel registered similar results with two compilations and one live album ranking at #17 (Greatest Hits), #26 (The Concert In Central Park) and #42 (The Definitive).

Thanks to the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen skyrocketed in recent years. Greatest Hits II is closing in the top spot while Greatest Hits is at #8, up from #22 by the end of 2016.

The Top 20 suggests U2 are not too big in France, it isn’t true through as they stand at #23 with War, #25 with The Joshua Tree and #31 with Best Of 1980-1990 (#31), each of them selling in excess of 1.2 million.

Close enough too was AC/DC, they rank at #36 with Live, #38 with Back In Black and #45 with 1979 set Highway To Hell. The latter is a new member of the millionaires’ club thanks to its ongoing catalog sales.

Nirvana are up there at an impressive #5 position with Nevermind while Unplugged In New-York (#37) also shifted a million.

An eight foreign band land multiple million sellers as Supertramp is #22 with Breakfast In America and #28 with The Very Best Of.

The only local groups facing those international giants are Fredericks Goldman Jones trio at #13 with their eponymous debut and #35 with Rouge, plus Noir Désir with their two classic albumsDes Visages Et Des Figuresat #30 and666.667 Clubat #43.

In a more negative note, Kyo‘s Le Chemin is the last album from a band to sell a million. The hope is small to break this 17-year drought anytime soon.

 




Various Artists / Concept Albums

01 Musical Notre-Dame De Paris (1998) : 2 840 000
02 Era Era (1997) : 2 190 000
03 Musical Starmania (1978) : 2 105 000
04 Jean-Michel Jarre Oxygène (1976) : 2 080 000
05 Soundtrack Grease (1978) : 2 055 000
06 Soundtrack Dirty Dancing (1987) : 1 780 000
07 Soundtrack / Éric SerraLe Grand Bleu (1988) : 1 775 000
08 Soundtrack / Whitney HoustonThe Bodyguard (1992) : 1 735 000
09 Soundtrack / Bruno Coulais Les Choristes (2004) : 1 730 000
10 Soundtrack / James Horner Titanic (1997) : 1 695 000
11 Soundtrack / Bee Gees Saturday Night Fever (1977) : 1 545 000
12 Musical Roméo Et Juliette, De La Haine À L’Amour (2000) : 1 500 000
13 Richard Clayderman Rêveries (1979) : 1 400 000
14 Jean-Michel Jarre Equinoxe (1978) : 1 355 000
15 Jean-Philippe Audin & Diego Modena Ocarina (1991) : 1 290 000
16 Musical Les Dix Commandements (2000) : 1 185 000
17 Musical Notre-Dame De Paris (Intégrale) (1998) : 1 175 000
18 Soundtrack  Pulp Fiction (1994) : 1 115 000
19 Soundtrack / Yann Tiersen Amélie Poulain (2001) : 1 105 000
20 Soundtrack The Lion King (1994) : 1 085 000

Although there are much less albums featured on this list – 24 million sellers against 46 in the Bands category – more of them are part of the very best sellers.

This is a good representation of soundtracks way of selling, e.g. hit big or miss completely.

Chart runs of these albums reflect this situation too. In fact, most of them are notable for their two to four months runs at the top of charts.

This big splash upon release sent Grease and Saturday Night Fever up to unseen sales at the time, while Notre-Dame De Paris had the good idea to do the same during the peak of the music market in France to achieve monster sales.

Jean-Michel Jarre‘s couple of electronic albums also perform incredibly well on this list.

The love of the French public to musicals is well known. On top of Notre-Dame De Paris which appears twice, the iconic show Starmaniais past 2 million sales while both Roméo et Juliette and Les Dix Commandements record great sales.

Two Star Academy albums moved a million too, Chante Les Années 80 and the initial L’Album, they rank #22 and #23 in this category.

 


Female Albums

01 Céline Dion D’eux (1995) : 4 265 000
02 Lara Fabian Pure (1996) : 1 980 000
03 Céline Dion S’il Suffisait D’Aimer (1998) : 1 905 000
04 Adele 21 (2011) : 1 890 000
05 Céline Dion Let’s Talk About Love (1997) : 1 615 000
06 Norah Jones Come Away With Me (2002) : 1 610 000
07 Mylène Farmer Les Mots (2001) : 1 570 000
08 Amy WinehouseBack To Black (2006) : 1 510 000
09 Patricia Kaas Mademoiselle Chante… (1988) : 1 495 000
10 Mylène FarmerAinsi Soit Je… (1988) : 1 475 000
11 Hélène Ségara Au Nom D’Une Femme (2000) : 1 470 000
12 Mylène Farmer L’Autre… (1991) : 1 430 000
13 Carla Bruni Quelqu’un M’A Dit (2002) : 1 410 000
14 Patricia Kaas Je Te Dis Vous (1993) : 1 345 000
15 Tracy Chapman Tracy Chapman (1988) : 1 340 000
16 Mariah Carey Music Box (1993) : 1 295 000
17 Dido No Angel (1999) : 1 255 000
18 ZazZaz (2010) : 1 155 000
19 Mylène Farmer Innamoramento (1999) : 1 150 000
20 Isabelle Boulay Mieux Qu’Ici-Bas (2000) : 1 125 000

Out of the 29 female albums that made it past 1 million sales, this is a surprise to absolutely no one to see Celine Dion dominating the ranking.

Her album D’Eux turns into ridicule sales of remaining albums with a 2.1 to 1 lead over the runner up album.

The Canadian superstar also features at #3, #5 and #27 with Falling Into You.

If she dominates thanks to the magnitude of her success in mid-90s, Mylène Farmer has nothing to be ashamed of as she owns albums #7, #10, #12, #19 and #28 with Anamorphosée.

Her five albums inside the ranking are a record among female artists.

Her past rival Patricia Kaas has a very good showing too at #9, #14 and #26 with Scène De Vie.

The only purely foreign artist with similar results is Madonna who fails the Top 20 but still has three million sellers in True Blue (#21), The Immaculate Collection (#22) and Ray Of Light (#29).

Special mention to Adele who’s 21is at #4, the album rocketed incredibly high on this list despite awful market conditions. It’s the top selling English-speaking female album.

25is also a million seller now. It closes the female millionaires list at #32.

It isn’t the only 2015 album to sell a million. French youngster Louane is up to 1.07 million with Chambre 12.

The rest of this ranking is mostly fulfilled with one album wonders.

Lara Fabian did so at the best period to be as high as #2 overall while the likes Norah Jones, Amy Winehouse, Dido, Tracy Chapman, Zaz, Carla Bruni or Mariah Carey took French hearts by storm with one of their albums.



Male Albums

01 Michael Jackson Thriller (1982) : 3 825 000
02 Francis Cabrel Samedi Soir Sur La Terre (1994) : 3 415 000
03 Andrea Bocelli Romanza (1997) : 2 855 000
04 Patrick Bruel Entre Deux (2002) : 2 240 000
05 Patrick Bruel Alors Regarde (1989) : 2 200 000
06 Michael Jackson Dangerous (1991) : 2 195 000
07 StromaeRacine Carrée (2013) : 2 190 000
08 Renaud Boucan D’Enfer (2002) : 2 145 000
09 Johnny HallydaySang Pour Sang (1999) : 2 085 000
10 Florent Pagny Savoir Aimer (1997) : 2 075 000
11 Jacques BrelLes Marquises (1977) : 2 040 000
12 Francis Cabrel Sarbacane (1989) : 1 995 000
13 Bob MarleyLegend (1984) : 1 990 000
14 Garou Seul (2000) : 1 980 000
15 Francis Cabrel Hors-Saison (1999) : 1 915 000
16 Manu Chao Clandestino (1998) : 1 865 000
17 Jean-Jacques GoldmanSingulier (1996) : 1 845 000
18 Jean-Jacques GoldmanNon Homologué (1985) : 1 840 000
19 Michael Jackson Bad (1987) : 1 830 000
20 Jean-Jacques Goldman Chansons Pour Les Pieds (2001) : 1 810 000

This ranking is easily the most consistent category with as many as 82 million selling albums despite exclusions of instrumental artists a la Jean-Michel Jarre, Richard Clayderman and Andre Rieu.

If we ignore the unique Legend compilation album of Bob Marley, only three English albums feature inside this Top 20, including the chart topper.

These albums, Thriller (#1), Dangerous (#6) and Bad (#19) have several things in common but especially one – they are all Michael Jackson albums.

His massive dominance among foreign artists is completed by History which is the fourth foreign male studio album at #23 on this list. 

The only other purely foreign artists with more than one million seller is Phil Collins at #53 with …But Seriously and #56 with Serious Hits… Live. Bob Marley joined him too thanks to Uprisingwhich is just over a million.

Not fully local, not fully foreign are both Manu Chao and Julio Iglesias. The former had a mind-blowing era with Clandestino (#16) and sits at #72 with Proxima Estacion Esperanza. The latter has two albums lower on charts, A Vous Les Femmes (#49) and Sentimental (#77).

But the big deal about male artists relates to local singers. Several of them registered insane results.

Jean-Jacques Goldman already had two albums in the Bands list plus one related album in the Various artists list thanks to Génération Goldman covers. He also wrote two of the Top 3 female albums plus various others over a million.

Just like it was not enough, the man also rockets an unreal eight albums past 1 million as a solo artist. He is #17, #18, #20, #24 (Entre Gris Clair Et Gris Foncé), #35 (En Passant), #44 (Positif), #64 (Minoritaire) and #81 (En Public). A good challenge for him could be the release of an instrumental album, just to see if he still pulls a million!

Francis Cabrel is also one of a kind. His Samedi Soir Sur La Terre is runner up to Thrillerwhile his remaining albums are at #12 (Sarbacane), #15 (Hors-Saison), #30 (77-87), #52 (Fragile) and #67 (Les Chemins De Traverse).

Various artists own three million sellers. Patrick Bruel is one of them with two giga sellers (#4 & #5) plus Juste Avant at #29. Florent Pagny is #10, #28 (Bienvenue Chez Moi) and #71 (Ailleurs Land).

Renaud results are similar as he is #8, #33 (Morgane De Toi) and #46 (Mistral Gagnant). So did Yannick Noah despite a dropping market with his #25 debut, Pokhara at #54 and #55 with Charango.

The last owner of a triple crown is Michel Sardou. If all his million sellers barely did it – his albums chart at #66, #73 and #75 – he is also the one with three more albums just under the mark.

As we mentioned most all-time best-selling artists minus the absolute #1, it is time to speak about Johnny Hallyday.

The legendary rocker who passed away in 2017 has two albums high at #9 and #21.

Lower down the rankings he has three more million sellers. It includes a couple of mids-80s classics, Rock ‘N’ Roll Attitude (#50) and Gang (#45), as well as 2018 posthumous release Mon Pays C’est L’Amour.

The only newly released million seller since 2016, it is now over 1.5 million sales.

Obviously, Johnny Hallyday has also countless albums ranging from half a million to a million pure sales.

With two albums a piece are also Alain Souchon, Calogero, Jacques Brel and Michel Berger.

Giving the competition and the current market, Stromaé achieves the unreal position of #7 with his terrific smash Racine Carrée. He is still climbing the list fast.

 

01.06.08 [daddy´s LP´s]

PER ALBUM TYPE



Compilations

01 Queen Greatest Hits II (1991) : 2 580 000
02 Bob Marley Legend (1984) : 1 990 000
03 ABBA Gold – Greatest Hits (1992) : 1 865 000
04 Jean-Jacques Goldman Singulier (1996) : 1 845 000
05 Elton John The Very Best Of (1990) : 1 740 000
06 Queen Greatest Hits (1981) : 1 715 000
07 Mylène Farmer Les Mots (2001) : 1 570 000
08 Florent Pagny Bienvenue Chez Moi (1995) : 1 560 000
09 Francis Cabrel Cabrel 77-87 (1987) : 1 540 000
10 The Beatles 1967-1970 (1973) : 1 505 000
11 Jacques Brel 15 Ans D’Amour (1988) : 1 485 000
12 Charles Aznavour 20 Chansons D’Or (1987) : 1 465 000
13 The Beatles 1962-1966 (1973) : 1 375 000
14 Simon & Garfunkel Greatest Hits (1972) : 1 340 000
15 Supertramp The Very Best Of (1990) : 1 255 000
16 U2Best Of 1980-1990 (1998) : 1 235 000
17 Dire StraitsMoney For Nothing (1988) : 1 225 000
18 Emile & Images Jusqu’Au Bout De La Nuit (1999) : 1 225 000
19 Lionel Richie Back To Front (1992) : 1 185 000
20 The Beatles One (2000) : 1 100 000

Most of those albums have already been discussed through previous lists. A trio of albums need to be highlighted yet.

Queen classic 1991 set tops the list in part thanks to Platinum Collection sales. The same box sends Greatest Hits I to #6 too. 

Bob Marley perennial seller Legend is runner up, which looks natural as iconic as it is. It may top 2 million sales in 2021.

Jean-Jacques Goldman owns the greatest selling compilation among local acts, again quite naturally giving his dominance on French music scene.

ABBA evergreen compilation Gold album is at #3 and still going strong. Out of the top 10 albums, these three happen to be the only ones not almost completely replaced and as such are hot favorites to extend their lead.

A small notice, even if it is technically a compilation and sold enough to be #1, Andrea Bocelli‘s Romanzahas been excluded.

In fact, the singer broke the French audience with this release which has been exploited and marketed as a studio album.



Live Albums

01 Simon & Garfunkel The Concert In Central Park (1982) : 1 260 000
02 Phil Collins Serious Hits… Live (1990) : 1 245 000
03 AC/DCLive (1992) : 1 180 000
04 NirvanaUnplugged In New-York (1994) : 1 175 000
05 Musical Notre-Dame De Paris (Intégrale) (1998) : 1 175 000
06 Jean-Jacques GoldmanEn Public (1986) : 1 000 000

It takes a lot to sell 1 million copies of a single album in France, let alone of a Live album. In this country, almost every successful album eras are concluded with the release of a related Live set.

Theese albums usually sell from 20% to 50% of the related studio album. During the 90s, many of them from the likes Céline Dion, Mylène Farmer or Patricia Kaas made it past 2xPlatinum, representing 600,000 units, but none ever sold a million.

The lone ‘era ending’ live set that ever sold a million copies used to be the special case of Notre-Dame De Paris. Now, Jean-Jacques Goldman‘s En Public joined it as well.

This is the entire irony of this list as while the immense majority of live sets sold are directly related to an album era, the remaining four million selling lives all ended up so high mostly because during several years they were regarded as some kind of hits package for related artists.

Only Simon & Garfunkel had a best of available but it was already old while the live set was highly hyped.

The AC/DC album remained one of the very best-selling catalog albums of the last 20 years.

Even Goldman effort was his first live album and remained free of compilations challenging it until 1996.

MTV Unplugged in New York by Nirvana is now far and away the leading catalog seller of this group so it may take over the crown at some point.



Debut Albums

01 Louise Attaque Louise Attaque (1997) : 2 820 000
02 Era Era (1997) : 2 190 000
03 Garou Seul (2000) : 1 980 000
04 Manu Chao Clandestino (1998) : 1 865 000
05 Manau Panique Celtique (1998) : 1 785 000
06 Christophe Maé Mon Paradis (2007) : 1 630 000
07 Norah JonesCome Away With Me (2002) : 1 610 000
08 Patricia Kaas Mademoiselle Chante… (1988) : 1 495 000
09 Kendji GiracKendji(2014) : 1 465 000
10 Fredericks Goldman JonesFredericks Goldman Jones (1990) : 1 440 000

One element to notice is how recent all these albums are. Only one debut album released before 1988 ever sold 1 million.

At the time, each artist had to make his hole before benefitting from majors’ promotion machines.

A second key element is how most of these acts were already known before their debut album which highlights even more the difficulty of this feat.

Both Garou and Christophe Maé were musicals superstars, Era was a project from famous composer Eric Lévi, Fredericks Goldman Jones a side project of Jean-Jacques Goldman and Manu Chao was the former leader of Mano Negra band.

These elements point out even better how incredibly impressive the breakthrough of Louise Attaque has been.

This list welcomes a new entry with 2014’s Kendji Girac debut. At 1.47 million, it is the greatest seller since its release to date besides Johnny Hallyday posthumous blockbuster.




Christmas Albums

01 Tino Rossi C’est La Belle Nuit De Noêl (1973) : 1 095 000

Well, this category is rather empty, but just a small congrats to legendary Tino Rossi for achieving the impossible by selling over 1 million units of a Christmas album in France.

The success of this compilation relies on the most famous holiday song in the country, Petit Papa Noel, that the singer recorded way back in 1946.



Soundtrack Albums

01 Soundtrack Grease (1978) : 2 055 000
02 SoundtrackDirty Dancing (1987) : 1 780 000
03 Soundtrack / Éric Serra Le Grand Bleu (1988) : 1 775 000
04 Soundtrack / Whitney HoustnThe Bodyguard (1992) : 1 735 000
05 Soundtrack / Bruno Coulais Les Choristes (2004) : 1 730 000
06 Soundtrack / James Horner Titanic (1997) : 1 695 000
07 Soundtrack / Bee Gees Saturday Night Fever (1977) : 1 545 000
08 SoundtrackPulp Fiction (1994) : 1 115 000
09 Soundtrack / Yann Tiersen Amélie Poulain (2001) : 1 105 000
10 Soundtrack The Lion King (1994) : 1 085 000

While listing soundtracks we meet with two categories.

Firstly, the big storms, the likes Saturday Night Fever, Le Grand Bleu, Bodyguard, Titanic. These albums arrived, destroyed everything and left.

Secondly, there are huge catalog sellers. Mostly two of them, Dirty Dancing and Pulp Fiction, that did wonders in the long run.

Then, there is Grease. This one had both, the massive hype when first released and incredible catalog sales with unmatchable revivals all along the 90s, bringing it to outstanding total sales.



Musical Albums

01 Musical Notre-Dame De Paris (1998) : 2 840 000
02 Musical Starmania (1978) : 2 105 000
03 Musical Roméo Et Juliette, De La Haine À L’Amour (2000) : 1 500 000
04 Musical Les Dix Commandements (2000) : 1 185 000
05 Musical Notre-Dame De Paris (Intégrale) (1998) : 1 175 000

Starmania started everything. The incredible success of this musical over two decades, with impressive results by the original set as well as related new releases in mid-90s, pushed its author Luc Plamondon to create a new musical, which concluded on Notre-Dame De Paris, an even bigger success.

After noticing this unbelievable smash from 1998, all majors contracted lyricists, composers, and dancers to create their own musicals.

Some were successful, some were not, but both Roméo Et Juliette and Les Dix Commandements smashed hard in 2000.

 

"Artist Studio".... A.K.A...Your Extraordinary Collection Showcased here on Flickr!!

PER ALBUM LANGUAGE

English language studio Albums

01 Michael Jackson Thriller (1982) : 3 825 000
02 Michael Jackson Dangerous (1991) : 2 195 000
03 Soundtrack Grease (1978) : 2 055 000
04 Dire Straits Brothers in Arms (1985) : 2 050 000
05 Adele 21 (2011) : 1 890 000
06 Michael Jackson Bad (1987) : 1 830 000
07 NirvanaNevermind (1991) : 1 820 000
08 Pink FloydDark Side Of The Moon (1973) : 1 790 000
09 Soundtrack Dirty Dancing (1987) : 1 780 000
10 Soundtrack / Whitney Houston The Bodyguard (1992) : 1 735 000
11 Soundtrack / James Horner Titanic (1997) : 1 695 000
12 Michael Jackson HIStory (1995) : 1 690 000
13 Céline Dion Let’s Talk About Love (1997) : 1 615 000
14 Neil YoungHarvest (1972) : 1 610 000
15 Norah Jones Come Away With Me (2002) : 1 610 000
16 Pink FloydThe Wall (1979) : 1 565 000
17 The Cranberries No Need To Argue (1994) : 1 555 000
18 Soundtrack / Bee Gees Saturday Night Fever (1977) : 1 545 000
19 Amy WinehouseBack To Black (2006) : 1 510 000
20 Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here (1975) : 1 465 000

This list is mainly oriented towards three axes. The first one is Michael Jackson, by far the major figure of the list at #1, #2, #6 and #12 with four consecutive albums.

The second axis is made of soundtracks that occupy five of the Top 17 spots, including Grease at #3.

The third axis is Pink Floyd with three albums inside the Top 20 including their classic Dark Side Of The Moon at #8.

We can also highlight the fact that many of these albums are tremendous catalog sellers.

11 out of 20 sold 30,000 units or more in the ast 5 years, with Back To Black leading the way at 185,000, followed by Nevermind(155,000), Thriller(80,000) and Dark Side of The Moon (75,000)



Non-English/French language Albums

01 Andrea Bocelli Romanza (1997) : 2 855 000
02 Era Era (1997) : 2 190 000
03 Manu Chao Clandestino (1998) : 1 865 000
04 Manu Chao Proxima Estacion Esperanza (2001) : 1 075 000
05 Laura Pausini E Ritorno (2001) : 1 010 000

It is tough to reach such a milestone with a foreign language album. Out of the five records which did it, three are projects from French artists by both Era and Manu Chao.

Remaining albums by Andrea Bocelli and Laura Pausini are both Italian albums.

One interesting point is that all those albums got released in a span of four years during the all-time peak of the market, proving how nearly impossible it is to sell 1 million of these releases without highly favorable conditions.




Instrumental Albums

01 Jean-Michel Jarre Oxygène (1976) : 2 070 000
02 Soundtrack / Éric SerraLe Grand Bleu (1988) : 1 760 000
03 Richard Clayderman Rêveries (1979) : 1 400 000
04 Jean-Michel Jarre Equinoxe (1978) : 1 350 000
05 Jean-Philippe Audin & Diego Modena Ocarina (1991) : 1 290 000
06 Soundtrack / Yann TiersenAmélie Poulain (2001) : 1 095 000
07 André Rieu Valses (1997) : 1 080 000

Most instrumental artists are one-off acts, at least on this magnitude of sales.

Andre Rieu often sold well of his albums but came nowhere near his Valses album with his remaining records, same for Richard Clayderman who sold tons of albums during a few years before disappearing.

The only exception is Jean-Michel Jarre who managed two monster sellers plus various others over half a million units, confirming his status of French electronic music godfather.

STATISTICS

  • Total number of million sellers: 184
  • Total number of acts with million sellers: 107
  • Total number of foreign million sellers: 76
  • Total number of two-million sellers: 20
  • Multiple million sellers: Jean-Jacques Goldman (8+2), Francis Cabrel (6), Johnny Hallyday, Mylène Farmer (5), Céline Dion, Michael Jackson (4), AC/DC, Dire Straits, Florent Pagny, Madonna, Michel Sardou, Patricia Kaas, Patrick Bruel, Pink Floyd, Renaud, Simon & Garfunkel, The Beatles, U2, Yannick Noah (3), Adele, Alain Souchon, Bob Marley, Calogero, Fredericks Goldman Jones, Jacques Brel, Jean-Michel Jarre, Julio Iglesias, Manu Chao, Michel Berger, Nirvana, Noir Désir, Phil Collins, Queen, Supertramp (2)

Per Year

  • 1971 – 1
  • 1972 – 3
  • 1973 – 4
  • 1974 – 0
  • 1975 – 1
  • 1976 – 2
  • 1977 – 4
  • 1978 – 3
  • 1979 – 6
  • 1980 – 4
  • 1981 – 2
  • 1982 – 3
  • 1983 – 2
  • 1984 – 2
  • 1985 – 5
  • 1986 – 3
  • 1987 – 8
  • 1988 – 6
  • 1989 – 5
  • 1990 – 6
  • 1991 – 7
  • 1992 – 5
  • 1993 – 5
  • 1994 – 7
  • 1995 – 4
  • 1996 – 8
  • 1997 – 10
  • 1998 – 8
  • 1999 – 10
  • 2000 – 9
  • 2001 – 9
  • 2002 – 8
  • 2003 – 3
  • 2004 – 3
  • 2005 – 3
  • 2006 – 3
  • 2007 – 3
  • 2008 – 1
  • 2009 – 0
  • 2010 – 1
  • 2011 – 1
  • 2012 – 1
  • 2013 – 1
  • 2014 – 1
  • 2015 – 2
  • 2016 – 0
  • 2017 – 0
  • 2018 – 1
  • 2019 – 0
  • 2020 – 0

FRANCE BEST SELLING ALBUMS EVER



01 Céline DionD’Eux (1995) : 4 265 000
02 Michael JacksonThriller (1982) : 3 825 000
03 Francis CabrelSamedi Soir Sur La Terre (1994) : 3 415 000
04 Andrea BocelliRomanza (1997) : 2 855 000
05 MusicalNotre-Dame De Paris (1998) : 2 840 000
06 Louise AttaqueLouise Attaque (1997) : 2 820 000
07 QueenGreatest Hits II (1991) : 2 580 000
08 Patrick BruelEntre Deux (2002) : 2 240 000
09 Patrick BruelAlors Regarde (1989) : 2 200 000
10 Michael JacksonDangerous (1991) : 2 195 000

11 StromaeRacine Carrée (2013) : 2 190 000
12 EraEra (1997) : 2 190 000
13 RenaudBoucan D’Enfer (2002) : 2 145 000
14 MusicalStarmania (1978) : 2 105 000
15 Johnny HallydaySang Pour Sang (1999) : 2 085 000
16 Jean-Michel JarreOxygène (1976) : 2 080 000
17 Florent PagnySavoir Aimer (1997) : 2 075 000
18 SoundtrackGrease (1978) : 2 055 000
19 Dire StraitsBrothers In Arms (1985) : 2 050 000
20 Jacques BrelLes Marquises (1977) : 2 040 000

21 Francis Cabrel Sarbacane (1989) : 1 995 000 
22 Bob MarleyLegend (1984) : 1 990 000
23 Lara FabianPure (1996) : 1 980 000
24 GarouSeul (2000) : 1 980 000
25 Francis CabrelHors-Saison (1999) : 1 915 000
26 Céline DionS’il Suffisait D’Aimer (1998) : 1 905 000
27 Adele21 (2011) : 1 890 000
28 Manu ChaoClandestino (1998) : 1 865 000
29 ABBAGold – Greatest Hits (1992) : 1 865 000
30 Jean-Jacques GoldmanSingulier (1996) : 1 845 000

31 Jean-Jacques GoldmanNon Homologué (1985) : 1 840 000
32 Michael JacksonBad (1987) : 1 830 000
33 NirvanaNevermind (1991) : 1 820 000
34 Jean-Jacques GoldmanChansons Pour Les Pieds (2001) : 1 810 000
35 Johnny HallydayÀ La Vie, À La Mort (2002) : 1 800 000
36 Pink FloydDark Side Of The Moon (1973) : 1 790 000
37 ManauPanique Celtique (1998) : 1 785 000
38 SoundtrackDirty Dancing (1987) : 1 780 000
39 Soundtrack / Éric SerraLe Grand Bleu (1988) : 1 775 000
40 Elton JohnThe Very Best Of (1990) : 1 740 000

41 Soundtrack / Whitney HoustonThe Bodyguard (1992) : 1 735 000
42 Soundtrack / Bruno CoulaisLes Choristes (2004) : 1 730 000
43 QueenGreatest Hits (1981) : 1 715 000
44 Soundtrack / James HornerTitanic (1997) : 1 695 000
45 Michael JacksonHIStory (1995) : 1 690 000
46 Jean-Jacques GoldmanEntre Gris Clair Et Gris Foncé (1987) : 1 670 000
47 Yannick NoahYannick Noah (2000) : 1 655 000
48 Christophe MaéMon Paradis (2007) : 1 630 000
49 Céline DionLet’s Talk About Love (1997) : 1 615 000
50 Neil YoungHarvest (1972) : 1 610 000

51 Norah JonesCome Away With Me (2002) : 1 610 000
52 Mylène FarmerLes Mots (2001) : 1 570 000
53 Pink FloydThe Wall (1979) : 1 565 000
54 Florent PagnyBienvenue Chez Moi (1995) : 1 560 000
55 The CranberriesNo Need To Argue (1994) : 1 555 000
56 Soundtrack / Bee GeesSaturday Night Fever (1977) : 1 545 000
57 Patrick BruelJuste Avant (1999) : 1 545 000
58 Francis CabrelCabrel 77-87 (1987) : 1 540 000
59 RaphaelCaravane (2005) : 1 535 000
60 Johnny HallydayMon Pays C’est L’Amour (2018) : 1 525 000

61 Amy WinehouseBack To Black (2006) : 1 510 000
62 The Beatles1967-1970 (1973) : 1 505 000
63 RenaudMorgane De Toi (1983) : 1 500 000
64 MusicalRoméo Et Juliette, De La Haine À L’Amour (2000) : 1 500 000
65 Patricia KaasMademoiselle Chante… (1988) : 1 495 000
66 Jacques Brel15 Ans D’Amour (1988) : 1 485 000
67 Jean-Jacques GoldmanEn Passant (1997) : 1 480 000
68 Mylène FarmerAinsi Soit Je… (1988) : 1 475 000
69 Henri SalvadorChambre Avec Vue (2000) : 1 470 000
70 Hélène SégaraAu Nom D’Une Femme (2000) : 1 470 000

71 Kendji GiracKendji (2014) : 1 465 000
72 Pink FloydWish You Were Here (1975) : 1 465 000
73 Charles Aznavour20 Chansons D’Or (1987) : 1 465 000
74 Alain SouchonC’Est Déjà Ca (1993) : 1 465 000
75 Fredericks Goldman JonesFredericks Goldman Jones (1990) : 1 440 000
76 CalogeroCalogero (2002) : 1 435 000
77 MikaLife in Cartoon Motion (2007) : 1 435 000
78 Mylène FarmerL’Autre… (1991) : 1 430 000
79 Carla BruniQuelqu’un M’A Dit (2002) : 1 410 000
80 Ace Of BaseHappy Nation (1993) : 1 405 000

81 Richard ClaydermanRêveries (1979) : 1 400 000
82 Roch VoisineHélène (1989) : 1 400 000
83 EaglesHotel California (1976) : 1 390 000
84 The Beatles1962-1966 (1973) : 1 375 000
85 Calogero3 (2004) : 1 375 000
86 Jean-Michel JarreEquinoxe (1978) : 1 355 000
87 Jean-Jacques GoldmanPositif (1984) : 1 350 000
88 Patricia KaasJe Te Dis Vous (1993) : 1 345 000
89 Johnny HallydayGang (1986) : 1 345 000
90 RenaudMistral Gagnant (1985) : 1 340 000

91 Tracy ChapmanTracy Chapman (1988) : 1 340 000
92 Simon & GarfunkelGreatest Hits (1972) : 1 340 000
93 KyoLe Chemin (2003) : 1 340 000
94 Pascal ObispoSuperflu (1996) : 1 340 000
95 IAML’Ecole Du Micro D’Argent (1997) : 1 335 000
96 Dire StraitsOn Every Street (1991) : 1 335 000
97 Maxime Le ForestierMon Frère (1972) : 1 335 000
98 Julio IglesiasA Vous Les Femmes (1979) : 1 330 000
99 Johnny HallydayRock ‘N’ Roll Attitude (1985) : 1 330 000
100 Johnny Clegg & SavukaThird World Child (1987) : 1 320 000

101 Gérald de PalmasMarcher Dans Le Sable (2000) : 1 315 000
102 Francis CabrelFragile (1980) : 1 310 000
103 Phil Collins…But Seriously (1989) : 1 310 000
104 SupertrampBreakfast In America (1979) : 1 305 000
105 Yannick NoahPokhara (2003) : 1 300 000
106 Mariah CareyMusic Box (1993) : 1 295 000
107 U2War (1983) : 1 290 000
108 Jean-Philippe Audin & Diego ModenaOcarina (1991) : 1 290 000
109 Yannick NoahCharango (2006) : 1 280 000
110 Pow woWRegagner Les Plaines (1992) : 1 270 000
111 U2The Joshua Tree (1987) : 1 265 000
112 Simon & GarfunkelThe Concert In Central Park (1982) : 1 260 000
113 L5L5 (2001) : 1 260 000
114 SupertrampThe Very Best Of (1990) : 1 255 000
115 DidoNo Angel (1999) : 1 255 000
116 IndochineParadize (2002) : 1 250 000
117 Noir DésirDes Visages Et Des Figures (2001) : 1 245 000
118 Phil CollinsSerious Hits… Live (1990) : 1 245 000
119 François FeldmanUne Présence (1989) : 1 240 000
120 U2Best Of 1980-1990 (1998) : 1 235 000
121 Alain SouchonAu Ras Des Pâquerettes (1999) : 1 235 000
122 Dire StraitsMoney For Nothing (1988) : 1 225 000
123 FugeesThe Score (1996) : 1 225 000
124 Jean FerratFerrat Chante Aragon (1971) : 1 225 000
125 Emile & ImagesJusqu’Au Bout De La Nuit (1999) : 1 225 000
126 Fredericks Goldman JonesRouge (1993) : 1 220 000
127 Daniel BalavoineSauver L’Amour (1985) : 1 210 000
128 Yves DuteilTarentelle (1977) : 1 205 000
129 BénabarReprise Des Négociations (2005) : 1 205 000
130 Lionel RichieBack To Front (1992) : 1 185 000
131 MusicalLes Dix Commandements (2000) : 1 185 000
132 AC/DCLive (1992) : 1 180 000
133 NirvanaMTV Unplugged In New York (1994) : 1 175 000
134 MusicalNotre-Dame De Paris (Intégrale) (1998) : 1 175 000
135 ZazZaz (2010) : 1 155 000
136 Jean-Jacques GoldmanMinoritaire (1982) : 1 155 000
137 Mylène FarmerInnamoramento (1999) : 1 150 000
138 MobyPlay (1999) : 1 140 000
139 Michel SardouLes Lacs Du Conemara (1981) : 1 130 000
140 Isabelle BoulayMieux Qu’Ici-Bas (2000) : 1 125 000
141 Francis CabrelLes Chemins De Traverse (1979) : 1 120 000
142 SoundtrackPulp Fiction (1994) : 1 115 000
143 AC/DCBack In Black (1980) : 1 115 000
144 Soundtrack / Yann TiersenAmélie Poulain (2001) : 1 105 000
145 MadonnaTrue Blue (1986) : 1 105 000
146 The BeatlesOne (2000) : 1 100 000
147 MadonnaThe Immaculate Collection (1990) : 1 100 000
148 Tino RossiC’est La Belle Nuit De Noêl (1973) : 1 095 000
149 Tina ArenaIn Deep (1997) : 1 090 000
150 Suprême NTMSuprême NTM (1998) : 1 085 000
151 SoundtrackThe Lion King (1994) : 1 085 000
152 Spice GirlsSpice (1996) : 1 085 000
153 SealSoul (2008) : 1 085 000
154 Barry WhiteUltimate Collection (1999) : 1 080 000
155 Florent PagnyAilleurs land (2003) : 1 080 000
156 André RieuValses (1997) : 1 080 000
157 Star Academy 2Chante Les Années 80 (2002) : 1 080 000
158 Manu ChaoProxima Estacion Esperanza (2001) : 1 075 000
159 LouaneChambre 12 (2015) : 1 075 000
160 France GallBabacar (1987) : 1 065 000
161 Patricia KaasScène De Vie (1990) : 1 065 000
162 Michel SardouLa Java De Broadway (1977) : 1 065 000
163 Grégory LemarchalLa Voix D’Un Ange (2007) : 1 055 000
164 Simon & GarfunkelThe Definitive Simon & Garfunkel (1991) : 1 055 000
165 Michel SardouDu Plaisir (2004) : 1 050 000
166 Richard CoccianteCompilation 74-94 (1994) : 1 045 000
167 Céline DionFalling Into You (1996) : 1 045 000
168 Mylène FarmerAnamorphosée (1995) : 1 035 000
169 Julio IglesiasSentimental (1980) : 1 030 000
170 Star AcademyL’Album (2001) : 1 030 000
171 CompilationGénération Goldman (2012) : 1 025 000
172 MadonnaRay Of Light (1998) : 1 025 000
173 Michel BergerPour Me Comprendre (2001) : 1 020 000
174 Noir Désir666.667 Club (1996) : 1 015 000
175 Laura PausiniE Ritorno (2001) : 1 010 000
176 Diam’sDans Ma Bulle (2006) : 1 010 000
177 James BluntBack To Bedlam (2005) : 1 010 000
178 SantanaSupernatural (1999) : 1 005 000
179 AC/DCHighway to Hell (1979) : 1 005 000
180 Bob MarleyUprising (1980) : 1 005 000
181 Adele25 (2015) : 1 000 000
182 Worlds ApartEverybody (1996) : 1 000 000
183 Jean-Jacques GoldmanEn Public (1986) : 1 000 000
184 Michel BergerCelui Qui Chante (1994) : 1 000 000

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

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divinedhammer

I’ve just look into France bestselling list for a long time since 2008. from Ukmix and now still see Nirvana’s catalogue there. it feels like seeing old friend here. also I’m suprised because it still sold some coppies not too many coppies but among catalogue albums.

Analord

I’d like to know what’s your estimate for Les Marquises’ initial sales (i.e. before it left the charts) ? I know Thriller sold about 2m by 1984, and I think that the previous record might be this one, much less of course, but maybe 1.2m ? Although the Clayderman thing might have sold a similar number by 1980…

Analord

Do you mean 1.6 million by the end of 1980 ? In the article for the album you implied that its chart run was very brief, so I assumed it left the charts by spring or summer 1978 ? That’s what I meant by “initial sales”, especially considering his death in october must have greatly helped the album at the end of that year.

Also I’m confused by your Grease figure, 1.4m by the end of 1980 ? While in the article you said “900,000 copies by 1982, crossing the million by the end of the 80s” ?

Last edited 2 months ago by Analord
Analord

Wow… 1.6 million in just a few months is insane… Looking at the US market, the only comparable example I found is NSync’s No Strings Attached (8x platinum in 2 months) but of course album sales were much more frontloaded in 2000 than they were in 1977. Adele’s 25 was 8x platinum in 50 days but the US population was much bigger then, so I think NSync is more impressive.

You haven’t answered me about Grease 😉

Analord

That’s what I thought 😉 The reason I asked is because I made a list a while ago (based on your work) about the albums with the biggest “initial sales”, or what you might call their “promotional eras”, indeed I think it’s more interesting than comparing catalog sales since there are so many factors that influence those (like greatest hits compilations for example). Anyway, I thought I might as well post it here : 01 Céline Dion – D’Eux (1995) : 3.7M 02 Francis Cabrel – Samedi Soir Sur La Terre (1994) : 2.9M 03 Musical – Notre-Dame De Paris… Read more »

Clockingbell

Definitely! Especially for the UK!

Analord

Here’s the UK list : 01 Adele – 21 (2011) : 4.7M 02 Oasis – (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? (1995) : 4M 03 Michael Jackson – Bad (1987) : 3.8M 04 Simply Red – Stars (1991) : 3.5M 05 Dire Straits – Brothers In Arms (1985) : 3.4M 06 Shania Twain – Come On Over (1998) : 3.3M 07 Adele – 25 (2015) : 3.3M 08 Spice Girls – Spice (1996) : 3.2M 09 The Corrs – Talk On Corners (1997) : 3.2M 10 James Blunt – Back To Bedlam (2004) : 3M 11 Amy Winehouse – Back To… Read more »

Clockingbell

Thanks! Also including streams for the last few years, I see?

Analord

No, streaming isn’t included.

By the way, make that 4.8m for Adele’s 21. I used to think it sold around 5.1m but I realized a moment ago that it has a strange certification history, 16x platinum (4.8m) when its total was 4.3m and selling like 10k a week… I’m curious what MJD thinks about this (sorry if this is way too off topic btw).

Clockingbell

I like it anyway, but just two observations: 1. for Simply Red and The Corrs you give higher numbers than the ‘official’ totals, which is fine, as Chartmasters do this a lot too. But is it due to clubsales? 2. For Divide you give a higher number than Chartmasters, that’s why I assumed streams were included. Which sales have we missed?

Analord

Yeah club sales are probably missing from these official totals (Simply Red’s album was certified 12xp in 1995).

As for Divide, honestly I’m not sure about its share of “real” sales, all I know is 2.13m during 2017, I’d say at least 300k during 2018… My original estimate was 2.65m by late 2019 but it might be a little too high, assuming it’s 2.55m it would be #19 on the list rather than #15.

Analord

Oh… Yeah I assumed that by 2012 OCC numbers were very close to the real numbers, also one thing that confused me is the 17xp cert in 08/2018 when their total was 5.1m, but I just remembered about the automatic certifications based on OCC numbers… The 16xp cert was definitely not based on that ! 😆

Ok so let’s say 5m for 21’s initial sales, i.e. 8% of british people bought it at the time, impressive but Thriller did better in the US (well over 9%, assuming close to 22m of initial sales).

Analord

Just to be clear on that DUS thing, here’s something from the OCC website :

“Because it is impractical to collect sales data from all independent stores, sales data is weighted up from a representative sample of stores. This produces the DUS (Defined Universe Sales figure) for the independent sector.”

But you’re saying they’re just using the “raw” numbers (not weighted up)?

Analord

Man… I mean obviously I noticed a lot of inconsistencies in their numbers, but the lack of professionalism is a little shocking…

As for my top 50 above, I think I’ll just replace Lighthouse Family with Rihanna’s Loud (I had it at 1.85m by late 2012, so it was probably over 1.9m).

Thanks for being a goldmine of information by the way 😉

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