Killing Me Softly is one of these songs which strikes everyone instantly. You don’t need multiple plays to fell in love with it.
Even if it is a cover of Roberta Flack, the imprint of the Fugees was obvious.
Soon, they were claimed to own the greatest selling rap album of all-time. A quarter of century later, we review all their statistics up to date.
Composed of lead singer Lauryn Hill and two rapper-producers cousins from Haiti, Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel, the trio was quickly recognized for the creativity of their samples by critics.
The commercial success of their debut Blunted On Reality was very limited. Their sophomore record, The Score, was instead a smash.
As they all went solo after this era, the discography of the trio still contains a mere two albums.
As usual, I’ll be using the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept in order to relevantly gauge their results. This concept will not only bring you sales information for all Fugees‘s albums, physical and download singles, as well as audio and video streaming. In fact, it will also determine their true popularity.
If you are not yet familiar with the CSPC method, below is a nice and short video of explanations. I fully recommend watching it before getting into the sales figures. Of course, if you are a regular visitor feel free to skip the video and get into the numbers directly.
The Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept (CSPC)
There are two ways to understand this revolutionary concept. The first is the Scribe video posted below. If you are unaware of the CSPC method, you will get the full idea within just a few minutes.
If you are a mathematical person, and want to know the full method as well as formulas, you can read the full introduction article.
Now let’s get into the artist’s sales figures in detail in order to apply this concept and define the act’s true popularity!
Fugees Album Sales
Original Album Sales – Comments
In its first two years Blunted On Reality struggled to reach sales in 6 digits. Catalog sales post-The Score release pushed it to nearly a million units to date.
The success story obviously came with the 1996 LP. In the US, The Score went 5xPlatinum before the end of the year, quickly tying the Beastie Boys‘ Licensed to Ill among the all-time top selling rap albums, only beaten by early 90s blockbusters from MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice.
Worldwide though, the Fugees had little competition from hip-hop stars until the explosion of Eminem.
Even the Slim Shady struggles to compete with The Score‘s performance in some markets. In Europe, The Marshall Mathers LP is on a virtual tie with The Score to be the greatest seller ever of the genre.
Ultimately, the album sold over 16 million copies.
Fugees songs sales
As a reminder, the weighting is done with a 10 to 3 ratio between albums and digital singles.
With no surprise, their strongest selling physical single is Killing Me Softly.
It moved nearly 4 million units despite no US release. Uncharted there for this reason, the song was #1 virtually everywhere else.
The single went through the roof particularly in Europe. It was the top seller of 1996 in the UK, beating Spice Girls‘ Wannabe. It is a rare million seller in Germany too.
Ready Or Not and Fu-Gee-La sold just under / over a million. The former did very well in the UK with near half a million sales and a #1 peak, while the latter had more consistent results globally.
Both No Woman No Cry and Rumble In The Jungle sold a good share of their total in the UK as well, peaking respectively at #2 and #3.
As a reminder, the weighting is done with a 10 to 1.5 ratio between albums and digital singles.
It’s not so often that digital sales are in line with physical sales.
This is the case for the Fugees, with Killing Me Softly dominating once again.
The track is a great catalog seller with 2.87 million global sales to date.
Ready or Not also retains an incredible popularity. Far from being outshined, it is a classic on its own with well over a million digital sales.
Fu-Gee-La is maybe the only song which is slightly less popular nowadays with below half a million sales. This is still a healthy number for a 1996 single.
Streaming is made up of audio and video streams. Our CSPC methodology includes both to better reflect the real popularity of each track. The main source of data for each avenue is respectively Spotify and YouTube. To factor in the growing impact of multiple Asian countries where these platforms aren’t always the go-to site for music streaming, more sources have been added.
In order to account for their real popularity in each relevant country, the below sources have been used along with the mentioned ratios that reflect the market share of each area.
– South Korea : Genie streams * 3.05 (consistent with Gaon streaming numbers)
– Japan : AWA streams * 100/5.5 (AWA has 5.5% of the Japanese streaming market)
– Elsewhere : Spotify streams * (370 – 8.5 – 9.5 – 33 – 9) / 207 (370 million global subscribers minus 8.5 million from South Korea minus 9.5 million from Japan minus 33 million from China divided by the number of Spotify only users minus 9 million more Asian users) + Genie streams * 3.05 (uses Genie rather than Spotify to extrapolate markets like Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam)
– China* : Xiami streams * 125/6.5 (Xiami has just over 5% of the Chinese streaming market)
– Elsewhere : Youtube views
*since 96.4% of Chinese streaming platforms are free users, that paid-for users pay less than $2 a month and that they are also used as video streaming platforms, their streams are weighted in par with YouTube streams.
Audio Stream – 1500 plays equal 1 album unit
Video Stream – 11,750 views equal 1 album unit
Equivalent Albums Sales (EAS) = ( Spotify * 310/207 + Genie * 3.05*2 + AWA * 100/5.5 ) / 1500 + ( Xiami * 125/6.5 + YouTube ) / 11750
With a tiny discography and only one successful era, songs from The Score naturally flood this top 20.
In fact, all its 13 tracks are inside their top 16, including their leading quartet.
Killing Me Softly dominates on streaming platforms same as with sales. It leads all indicators with strong numbers on both Spotify (325 million) and YouTube (426 million).
Ready or Not is an impressive runner up as well. It records 184 million streams on Spotify and 275 million YouTube views, while also doing very well on South Korean platform Genie.
Numbers drop quickly song after song but Fu-Gee-La still records 100,000 EAS from streams, while No Woman, No Cry hits 50,000.
The Score records over 90% of their streaming units. It adds for over 800,000 sales on the back of streams, a massive number for a 90s album.
Full catalog breakdown
If you are familiar with the artist’s catalog and want to check details of each and every song, you can access to all of them right here.
Keep yourself up to date
Our website provides you a fantastic tool which fetchs updated Spotify streams as you request them, use it to watch these results grow day after day!
Fugees compilations sales
It sounds fairly logical to add together weighted sales of one era – studio album, physical singles, downloads, streams – to get the full picture of an album’s popularity. For older releases though, they also generate sales of various live, music videos and compilation albums.
All those packaging-only records do not create value, they exploit the value originating from the parent studio album of each of its tracks instead. Inevitably, when such compilations are issued, this downgrades catalog sales of the original LP.
Thus, to perfectly gauge the worth of these releases, we need to re-assign sales proportionally to its contribution of all the compilations which feature its songs. The following table explains this method.
The distribution process
How to understand this table? If you check this example of the Greatest Hits line, those figures mean it sold 530,000 units worldwide. The second statistics column means all versions of all the songs included on this package add for 800,908 equivalent album sales from streams of all types.
The second part on the right of the table shows how many equivalent streams are coming from each original album, plus the share it represents on the overall package.
Thus, streaming figures tell us songs from The Score are responsible for 95% of Greatest Hits tracklist attractiveness, which means it generated 501,000 of its 530,000 album sales and so on for the other records.
Compilations sales figures listing
Full Length related records Sales – Summary
Here is the most underestimated indicator of an album’s success – the amount of compilation sales of all kinds it generated. Due to the dependency of sales of the original studio albums on these releases, they are a key piece of the jigsaw.
These numbers are obtained by applying the method from the section The distribution process to all packages listed under Compilation sales figures listing category.
Total Album (all types) Sales per Country
Please note country-specific numbers may miss sales of a few minor releases, although totals are complete.
Fugees Career CSPC Results
So, after checking all the figures, how many overall equivalent album sales has each Fugees album achieved? Well, at this point we hardly need to add up all of the figures defined in this article!
Albums CSPC results
In the following table, all categories display figures that way, e.g. in equivalent album sales. For example, singles from The Score released in digital format sold the equivalent of 732,000 albums – 4,880,000 downloads with a 10 to 1,5 weighting.
As a reminder:
- Studio Album: sales of the original album
- Other Releases: sales of compilations generated thanks to the album
- Physical Singles: sales of physical singles from the album (ratio 3/10)
- Download Singles: sales of digital singles from the album (ratio 1,5/10)
- Streaming: equivalent album sales of all the album tracks (ratio 1/1500 for Audio stream and 1/11750 for Video stream)
The big question when studying the Fugees is how high will The Score feature. It’s up to nearly 21 million.
It continues to be a strong asset as shown by its 800,000 sales from streams. Released 25 years ago this week, can this anniversary boost the album further?
Not much to say about the rest of their recordings, with Blunted on Reality closing its tally at 1.3 million. It brings their career total to 22.46 million.
Singles CSPC results
The list is compiled in album equivalent sales generated by each song. Therefore, these figures are not merged units of singles formats. Instead, it includes weighted sales of the song’s physical single, download, ringtone and streaming as well as its share among sales of all albums on which it is featured.
1. 1996 – Fugees – Killing Me Softly [The Score] – 9,980,000
2. 1996 – Fugees – Ready or Not [The Score] – 5,240,000
3. 1995 – Fugees – Fu-Gee-La [The Score] – 2,600,000
4. 1996 – Fugees – No Woman, No Cry [The Score] – 1,480,000
5. 1994 – Fugees – Nappy Heads [Blunted on Reality] – 690,000
If you feel inspired by this list, we just created this CSPC Fugees playlist on Spotify!
Thanks to our new ASR (Artist Success Rating) concept, we know that their sales represent 27,42 million times the purchase of their discography. Coupled with their total sales, it translates into an ASR score of 141. The ranking of all artists studied so far is available too at this link.
Records & Achievements
- At 16,325,000 album sales, The Score is the 3rd greatest selling hip-hop album of all-time.
- At 3,955,000 units, Killing Me Softly is one of the best selling singles of all-time with no US release.
NB: EAS means Equivalent Album Sales.
You may be interested in…
… best-selling artists, albums, and singles
To improve your navigation we created several amazing cross-artists lists posted inside the CSPC: Data Collector article. Click on it to see the full listing of all CSPC results compiled so far!
… similar artists
To put figures from this article into perspective, click on the images below to reach career breakdowns of similar artists:
As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!