France best selling albums ever: Dangerous by Michael Jackson (1991)

Dangerous by Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson was all over the place during the 80s, releasing two monster sellers Thriller (1982) and Bad (1987). Follow up album, 1991 release Dangerous, was apivotal album for the star as the cult producer of previous albums Quincy Jones, was no longer on board. Teddy Riley had taken his place as primary collaborator.

The lead single of this new album, Black Or White, was an instant smash. Spending its first 14 weeks without dropping below #6 while peaking for a couple of weeks at the Top of the chart, the song increased even more the huge expectation for the album. This resulted in a massive 560,000 copies shipped even before the set was released.

A #1 entry for the album seemed an absolute given however, it debuted at #2 . How was this possible? Firstly, because until mid-1992 charts in France were a bi-weekly publication so many albums debuted with only half of the period to sell.

Secondly, because the #1 that week, the live album Si Ce Soir by Patrick Bruel, was the conclusion of two years of absolute Bruelmania in France that saw the artist sell gigantic amounts of everything he released.

Thirdly, because Dangerous was released very close to Christmas so the overall increase in sales generated by gifts to moms and kids deflate the impact of new releases, especially since Patrick Bruel is much more of a gift-candidate than Michael Jackson.

During three 14-days periods, the charts remained unchanged with Bruel ahead of Jackson. In the second of them, a fresh new album Ca Ne Change Pas Un Homme by the best selling artist of all-time in France, Johnny Hallyday, debuted at only #3, highlighting how incredibly well the Top 2 were selling.

After the 1991 Christmas rush ended, Dangerous climbed to #1 and retained the position for two months. This set the pace for the 1992 year for Michael Jackson that was going to be mind-blowing. In fact, during this calendar year, the album never left the Top 10 including 11 weeks at #1 and 25 inside the Top 3. As if it wasn’t enough, the year started with Black Or White at #1 and then saw the five following singles, in this order, Remember The Time (#5), In The Closet (#9), Who Is It (#8), Jam (#8), and Heal The World (#2) all break the Top 10.

Both former releases Thriller (#16) and Bad (#31) came back strong on the charts thanks to the Dangerous Tour reaching France while his early Motown releases got rewarded through Greatest Hits (#6 on the compilation Chart) too. By April,  the Dangerous album was already on 900,000 units. As per VSD Magazine, it sold 1,2 million units in 1992. The album was certified Diamond by the SNEP that year.

The one that once said Don’t Stop Til’ You Get Enough still had more to come. In 1993, the seventh single Give In To Me ironically peaked at #7, giving the Dangerous album the all-time record of 7 Top 10 hits. Two more subsequent singles made the Top 40. The album was still at an incredible #2 position in January. It took until May 1993, some 18 months after release, to see for the very first time this album drop out of the Top 10. For most of the year it secured a Top 25 placing.

All in all, this stellar chart run granted the album a calculated total of 1,791,000 sales. This figure got confirmed in 2001 when almost a decade of catalog sales pushed its tally to 1,9 million units. The remaster released at that point sold 20,000 units in late 2001/2002. GFK sales from 2003 to 2008 point out 39,000 additional sales, showing great hold for the record despite the hits packages released in 1995, 2001 and 2003. Obviously, 2009 was marked by the passing of Michael Jackson. Just like his entire discography, the album benefited strongly, selling an impressive 80,000 units during the year and 34,000 more in 2010. Since, it sold 60,000 additional copies plus 25,000 of various 2CD boxes, most notably coupled with Bad.

Often called some kind of a disappointment, Dangerous is quite simply the greatest selling English-speaking album of the last 30 years in France.

Net shipment as of the end of 2015 is estimated at 2,175,000 copies.

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

Sources: SNEP, Nielsen, IFOP, GFK, Sony Music, VSD, Le Parisien.

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