France best selling albums ever:
Gang by Johnny Hallyday (1986)

After the successful Rock ‘N’ Roll Attitude era that put him back on track, Johnny Hallyday used the same template with 1986 follow up album, Gang. Calling one other hugely popular singer-songwriter to build this record, this time the Rock legend went after the Pop legend Jean-Jacques Goldman. As you know, this latter artist never did it wrong.

Himself in the middle of an insanely massive era, Non Homologué, Jean-Jacques Goldman wrote, composed and produced his first album for someone else with Gang. The lead single Je T’Attends had mixed results with a #23 peak. The album too wasn’t record breaking, debuting at #5 in its first monthly chart. It must be said that with a release on December, the competition was tremendous. Charts then became bi-weekly with Gang moving 10-10-15-23-24-out-30-30-out-out-out-26-12 during the next six months.

That 1987 first semester was supported by #7 hit J’Oublierai Ton Nom. Sales were decent as the album shipped 250,000 units after its first three months. It was still under the Platinum level of 400,000 by mid-1987 yet. At that point a third single came out, Je Te Promets. Its #5 peak doesn’t fully translate how massive it was. As an adult-contemporary song, it boosted the album instead of having an incredible showing in the Singles side. Out of charts when the hit came out, Gang climbed all the way back to the Top 10, spending 10 more weeks on it, ultimately eclipsing Platinum milestone. This success also facilitated the task for fourth single Laura which went #5 too, also pushing the album back up to the Top 10.

By the end of its run, the LP had accumulated 25 weeks inside the Top 10 and 52 weeks Top 25. More than being successful upon release, Gang era has been responsible for the two biggest Johnny Hallyday catalog hits. At 2,5 million and 2 million streams respectively, both Je Te Promets and J’Oublierai ton Nom are way ahead of all his other smashes at Spotify. Considering the infinite number of ground breaking hits the singer got, this is an unbelievable achievement, the kind of milestones that tend to be reached only when Jean-Jacques Goldman is around. Just like Patricia Kaas, Celine Dion or Gérald de Palmas, Johnny Hallyday received his biggest hits while working with him. Another song from the album, L’Envie also went Top 10, although on its live version to promote the newly released live set Johnny A Bercy. That record went #1 for four weeks, fully capitalizing on the value created by the previous two albums.

In 1990, already a couple of years after the end of its run, Gang reached 2xPlatinum for 600,000 units – the criteria for Platinum changed from 400,000 to 300,000 in 1988. With the artist receiving certifications in 1988 – Johnny A Bercy, Platinum – and 1989 – Cadillac, Platinum too – it seems clear that Gang really broke the 600,000 mark in 1990 only. As a remember from past articles, the market exploded in France at the end of 1987 after a tax change and the start of TV promotion for music, thus most of this album era happened when the market was still quite low. In fact, from mid-80s to early 90s it almost tripled. Apart from the likes Jean-Jacques Goldman, Renaud and Michael Jackson, pretty much nobody was selling much more than 600,000 units of an album in 1983-1986.

After adding a few more sales up to 1995, on that year came out this famous 2CD pack which combines Rock ‘N’ Roll Attitude and Gang albums plus Diego live song. This box, detailed on Rock ‘N’ Roll Attitude article, shifted the huge tally of 540,000 units.

The original album may not be an outstanding catalog seller since the discography of the vocalist is crowded with tons of live and compilation packages, Gang is still the most consistent seller among all Johnny Hallyday studio albums. Everything considered, this isn’t a very surprising fact giving the amazing streaming and downloads – Je Te Promets charted every year since 2012 inside the Top 200 Singles Chart – results of its songs. Sales since 1990 are estimated on 130,000 units, the bulk of them in early 90s.

Net shipment as of the end of 2016 is estimated at 1,270,000 copies.

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

Sources: SNEP, IFOP, Parler de sa vie, Le Monde, Billboard.

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