France best selling albums ever: …But Seriously by Phil Collins (1989)
Up to his fourth solo album, Phil Collins wasn’t the drummer of Genesis for long by 1989. One of the biggest acts of the 80s, he handled the transition to the 90s perfectly with the release of …But Seriously.
As every AC acts, peaking high on Singles Chart was a rare feat. In fact, since the start of the official chart in 1984 until today, Phil Collins only had two Top 10 hits despite being pretty successful. The #8 peak and 14 weeks Top 20 thus highlight very well how convincing has been In The Air Tonight, the lead single of this album.
Predictably, …But Seriously benefited from it by topping charts for a massive 14 weeks. The album waited many more months inside the Top 10 and one year and a half Top 50 to be certified Diamond in 1991. Late certification? Not really.
As we already studied on other cases like L’Autre by Mylène Farmer, the real question on long running #1 albums is who have you beat? There is actually three distinct ways, apart from certifications, to know the size of the Phil Collins wave that stroke in late 1989.
The first is the debut week. The album opened at #7 due to having only one week of sales on a bi-weekly chart before climbing to #1. While #7 is definitely not bad for a truncated week, it is not big either, showing the album wasn’t selling gigantic amounts. It explains why it was ‘only’ Gold upon release while Q4 smash albums often debut with 2xGold or Platinum certifications.
On following bi-weekly chart, an album from Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers debuted at #5 on similar conditions. That release jumped to #2 the following chart and then to #1 before being moved to the Compilation Chart on its fourth week. As surprising as it may seem, this was the biggest competitor of …But Seriously.
This is indeed the second way to judge the Collins album sales, the competition, that appeared to be fairly week all along its run at #1. Then, the last argument is the Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers The Album itself. In fact, similar openings, then exchanging 1-2 position during one month, those two albums were selling about the same. Still, when moved to the Compilation Chart, this later record was blocked at #2 by a random Compilation, highlighting again not-so-big sales, confirmed by the Gold certification of The Album in 1989 and Platinum in 1990.
All those arguments explain that …But Seriously Christmas sales weren’t as big as expected, nor were its sales when running for 12 consecutive weeks at the top in early 1990. Obviously, the album wasn’t selling weak amounts either, reaching 2xPlatinum (600,000) in mid-1990.
It retained a Top 10 position until October 1990, an incredible chart run for a foreign album. The fact that Serious Hits Live… was both released and certified in late 1990 confirms the album was still short of the Diamond award.
From that point it started dropping steadily but slowly, finally leaving the Top 50 in June 1991. Selling an estimated 160,000 units in this later year, this reveals both that the album was indeed close to the million mark in 1990 and that it wasn’t much higher in 1991. Estimates are set on 1,1 million by the end of this year.
During the early 90s the album was still a good catalog seller before suffering from 1998 Hits competition. It sold an estimated 120,000 units from 1992 until this release and 80,000 since.
Net shipment as of the end of 2015 is estimated at 1,300,000 copies.
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Sources: SNEP, Nielsen, Platine.