France best selling albums ever: Happy Nation by Ace Of Base (1993)
During the first half of the 90s, singles charts were flooded by Eurodance tracks. Not many acts of this genre achieved success in the albums side, virtually none except Ace Of Base.
It started just like the others yet. In mid-1993, their first single All That She Wants was a sizeable hit, peaking at #2 and sitting 13 weeks inside the Top 5. Their second single Wheel Of Fortune was much weaker, peaking at #21. The third, Happy Nation, debuted at #34 and was still not Top 10 after 14 weeks. In total, eleven months passed since the album release and eight months since their single debut, but the album still had the trajectory of a one-hit wonder album meaning a decent peak of #5 but a very short life in high areas before dropping out.
While hopes of finally taking off were low, the US version of the album, named The Sign in the US and Happy Nation (US Version) in Europe, was released in continental Europe with a large promotion. Both the single (35-30-21-19-13-10-2-1) and the album (RE-10-3-2-1) came back in full force, being unstoppable til’ reaching the Top. The buzz was so big that fourth single The Sign was already Top 5 that Happy Nation single had yet to leave the top spot.
On its side the album reigned 1+4 weeks that should have been 2+4 weeks. In fact, the last week prior the album climb to the top, it was ranked at #2 behind Cat Stevens Very Best Of.
As you may know by now, hits packages have been assigned to the Compilation Chart in France since 1985. The SNEP-related charts always had such data glitches yet and on week ending February 4 1994, compilations charted in the main chart. They were excluded the previous week and were excluded again the following one. Charts have never been retrospectively fixed meaning officially this week is still not counted as a #1 week for Ace Of Base smash record.
With two more singles issued during 1994, the album was on a roll, charting an outstanding 34 weeks in a raw inside the Top 5, including eight official weeks (1+4+3) at the Top. Those stats are even more impressive considering the album faced competition from Francis Cabrel, Patrick Bruel, Alain Souchon, Michel Sardou and Mariah Carey. In the Year End chart, they topped all of them except the former one.
Their label Barclay audited sales only three times during the year. In March 28, the album went 2xGold. In June 23, the album wasn’t audited. In October 27, the album was certified Diamond. Thus, Happy Nation reached a million anytime from late June til late October. Even assuming the latter date, it implies a massive 800,000 copies sold in seven months only, a minimum of 115,000 units per month.
This explains how this set has been able to challenge even Cabrel record breaking Samedi Soir Sur La Terre in some weeks. It was over 1,2 million units by the end of the year. Adding 120,000 units to its tally in 1995, it basically stopped selling since, just adding some copies here and there.
Net shipment as of the end of 2015 is estimated at 1,400,000 copies.
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Sources: SNEP, Nielsen, IFOP.