France best selling albums ever:
Greatest Hits II by Queen (1991)

With first compilation from Queen, 1981 Greatest Hits, being one of the biggest albums ever, the release of Greatest Hits II a decade later was obviously highly anticipated. The ultimate passing of lead singer Freddy Mercury only one month after this release pushed the buzz even higher.

Starting strong already in 1991, the album had its best year in 1992. Constantly sitting high in the compilation chart, the album reached Platinum, 2xPlatinum and then Diamond status within’ a year. In fact, the album lasted a record 30 consecutive weeks inside the Top 5 and never left the Top 10 during the entire year. Actually, it left the Top 10 only in April 1993.

Nowadays, it doesn’t mean that much, as the competition in the Compilation Chart is weak. The year 1992 was the all-time peak for such packages yet. On some weeks, data glitches by the SNEP enabled us to see how massive compilations were at the time as one or all of them got mixed with studio albums. There was also a top Multitop Nuggets aired on M6 TV channel that merged all albums. On those rankings, it wasn’t rare to see the Top 20 album chart containing more greatest hits type albums than studio records. Although those charts are not easily available and not official, it seems a given that Greatest Hits II was one of the Top 20 best sellers every week during 1992 year. By the end of 1993, as per VSD, the album had sold already over 1,2 million copies.

Years 1994-1995 were oriented around the packaged box Greatest Hits I & II. This box explains why the 1991 set never charted after dropping out in 1993. Certified Gold after a mere 5 weeks, the 2CD pack adds 200,000 copies to the original album.

The later (in 2000) release of The Platinum Collection, that included all three Greatest Hits albums released by the band, decreased too the profile of Greatest Hits II but only to shine by itself. The original album was still selling off the radar yet, increasing its tally to 1,4 million by 2004 on its own. Available retail sales of GFK from 2003 to 2008 highlight 41,000 sales for this album, slightly less than 7,000 copies a year. Then, The Platinum Collection was getting extraordinary results. Starting slow, issued with no promotion at all in 2000, the set gained ground after a couple of years. Failing the year end Top 40 Compilation Chart from 2000 to 2002, it was the 14th seller of 2003 and the 29th of 2004. By the end of the decade, it was up to 350,000 units sold.

Over 1,95 million combined by 2010, a remastered edition came out in early 2011. While this release wasn’t utterly hyped, it brought the interest back to the original record. From 2011 to 2014, the stand-alone album charted at least five weeks in the comprehensive chart each year. In the last five years, average yearly sales are up to almost 15,000 units. The Platinum Collection did even better by charting 45 weeks since 2011, selling 65,000 units up to 2015. In 2016, all editions combined 24,000 units.

Net shipment as of the end of 2016 is estimated at 2,170,000 copies.

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

Sources: SNEP, Nielsen, IFOP, GFK, VSD, L’Identité du Rock.

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