France best selling albums ever:
Bad by Michael Jackson (1987)

During the three years since the end of Thriller promotional campaign Medias were looking for the artist that would be able to dislodge Michael Jackson. In that span, artists like Prince or Bruce Springsteen did incredibly well in the US. So did Dire Straits, Madonna and U2 in France. In August 1987 the gloved one was back aiming to reclaim his crown thanks to his Bad album.

It was expected that Bad album was going to compete with Pink Floyd new set A Momentary Lapse Of Reason. Only a few days prior the release of those albums yet, Madonna was all over the place. A concert in front of 130,000 persons that involved strong controversy rocketed four of her albums inside the Top 10 including the Top 2. Suddenly, the two juggernauts needed to face a third challenger.

Even the relative disappointment of first single I Just Can’t Stop Loving Duet, a duet with Siedah Garrett which peaked at #12, was not able to shut down Bad yet. Debuting at #1, massive shipments enabled the set to go Platinum upon release. At 400,000 units and on awful market context, this was a very tough mark to reach. U2 classic album The Joshua Tree needed five months at the top earlier that year to make it. The massive amounts sold during the first weeks are the main reason of the album staying a – relatively – short period of six weeks at the top. The title track, released as the second single, peaked at #4 and helped maintaining the album inside the Top 10 during the entire Christmas season. The set completed the year on an estimated 465,000 units sold.

Following singles (The Way You Make Me Feel #29, Man In The Mirror uncharted, although #13 on airplay ranking) struggled a bit but kept the album well alive, sticking in the Top 30 for most of the first semester of 1988. This was enough to push the album over 2xPlatinum (600,000) status. In June, fifth single Dirty Diana was going to peak low too, at #31 after three weeks. Michael Jackson then brought his Bad Tour in France for four dates, two in late June and two in the middle of August. Dirty Diana re-peaked greatly after the two dates, first at #10 and six weeks later at #9.  The biggest gainer was obviously the album yet as it ranked 25-16-4-2-2-2-2-3-9 in the summer bi-weekly charts.

For the next 15 months, the album was still floating around thanks to additional singles Another Part Of Me (#32), Smooth Criminal (#4), Leave Me Alone (#17) and Liberian Girl (#15). As the Singles market was quite healthy at the time it was tough to peak high on hype or fan base alone, which makes peak pretty relevant of which songs were successful or not. The last three were especially solid as the album sold a calculated 431,000 copies in 1988, meaning Bad was already sold to nearly 900,000 record buyers when they got released. With 199,000 calculated sales in 1989, the album went 3xPlatinum and Diamond that year, with an estimated 1,1 million copies shipped by its last whisper.

The two albums Michael Jackson during the 90s were some of the very best sellers of the decade. Among English-speaking albums Dangerous was #1 of the 90s and HIStory #5, those successes kept the spotlight on his catalog. Bad re-entered charts in 1992 thanks to the Dangerous shows, peaking at #31. The album sold close to 100,000 units in each 1990-1991 and during 1992. It added 25,000 copies a year in 1993-1995 and some 15,000 in 1996-2000, reaching a total past 1,4 million copies by the release of the remastered edition along with Invincible album in 2001.

With several tracks becoming classic hits over years and the ultimate passing of the artist, the album enjoyed strong sales in the last 15 years. It sold 30,000 units of the remaster to the end of 2002, then added 54,000 copies as per GFK from 2003 to 2008. The death of Michael Jackson boosted Bad up to #4 in the main chart, only blocked by other albums by the artist with Thriller #1, The Essential #2 and Number Ones #3. Sales-wise Bad tally increased by 100,000 sales in 2009 plus 39,000 in 2010, followed by 80,000 sales from 2011 to 2015. The 25th anniversary edition released in 2012 debuted at #5 in the main chart, selling 30,000 copies. There is still a 2CD package with Dangerous that sold 25,000 units over many years. All in all, the album is closing in the impressive total of 400,000 copies sold since 2000. Those figures do not include the 130,000 sales of 5CD set The Collection which isn’t considered as eligible as part of the stand alone albums totals.

Net shipment as of the end of 2015 is estimated at 1,785,000 copies.

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

Sources: SNEP, Nielsen, IFOP, Le Parisien, GFK, Platine.

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