France best selling albums ever: Falling Into You by Celine Dion (1996)
Falling Into You by Celine Dion may look like a pretty normal album, this study is very specific for many reasons. From France industry point of view, this album shouldn’t have been released at that time.
Indeed, this album was released in early March 1996, in other words, when her previous French album, D’Eux, was still #1. The norm is to wait for previous albums to slow down before releasing a new one. Even more atypical is that Je Sais Pais hit song of D’Eux album was translated and included into Falling Into You.
This situation happened only because the main career of Dion is obviously at a World scale, from that point of view it was the follow up of 1993 album The Colour Of My Love that had run its course already. Obviously, the fact this release is the follow up of the bestselling album of all-time makes it special by definition.
This article is specific as well because reaching 1996 means reaching the first year of official charts, which started in June of that year. Thus, all early rankings of Falling Into You, although as legit as those post-June96 since they were compiled by the same provider, aren’t official. Year end chart Top 50 is also incomplete so there is basically no source at all for retail sales. SNEP certifications for the year are missing as well, less than a fifth of 1995 awards are available for 1996.
These certifications miss exact date too, only having the year. IFPI European certifications were also just getting started. Medias publishing reliable sales information like RFI Musique and Le Parisien weren’t involved in the subject at that time. Summarizing all issues, one would need an awful lot of experience and knowledge to estimate reliably sales of pre-97 albums. Luckily for you, that’s exactly what you got by reaching this website!
The album is specific, charts and sales are specific, so was the music industry context at the time. During the early 90s, a lot of international albums sold large amounts in France. The French legislation reacted with a quota policy for radio airplay: from January 1st of 1996 each radio should air at least 40% of local music. This explains why local releases became so dominant in late 90s and since the start of the century. This rule is still existing as of today.
In the case of Falling Into You, the jigsaw is still easy as most data is available. Notably, its certification got updated in 1996 (2xPlatinum, 600,000), in 1998 (3xPlatinum, 900,000) and in 2003 (Diamond, 1 million). This fits perfectly with its performances. In 1996, although it was #2 of the year, it hasn’t reach the 3xPlatinum status.
In fact, this was an awful year for top sellers as even the #1 – The Score by the Fugees – failed to sell a million within’ the calendar year. While definitely good, chart run of Dion album at the top wasn’t as sensational as one may expect after D’Eux smash. It got five weeks at #1 with relatively weak competition. Over months yet the album managed solid resistance spending 35 of its 36 weeks inside the Top 10. It sold over 700,000 units by year end.
In 1997, although still Top 10 at the start of the year, the album had its career behind already. It wasn’t charted in year end Top 50, with over 150,000 units sold. After it dropped out of charts in May of that year, it never surfaced again, not even on catalog chart. It did sell the few copies missing to reach the million yet, being certified in late 2003.
As several other Dion albums were certified at that date, Falling Into You was over a million a bit earlier. It isn’t very relevant yet as it couldn’t have been much sooner considering how few it was selling – under 4,000 units per year – and that the artist got various other updates from 1998 to 2002 without getting this Diamond award.
I do own GFK sales figures for 2003 to 2008 too which amount for under 22,000 copies sold in those six years with 3CD pack containing also Let’s Talk About Love and A New Day Has Come included. Since the certification overall estimates are up to 40,000 copies.
Net shipment as of the end of 2015 is estimated at 1,040,000 copies.
As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!
Sources: SNEP, IFOP, GFK.