France best selling albums ever: Les Lacs Du Connemara by Michel Sardou (1981)
It is almost a symbol that just after completing Jean-Jacques Goldman career, we enter into the Michel Sardou hey-days. France had three main generation of artists that entertained the country since the last 70 years.
The first one exploded in years 40-50, the famous Chanson Française led by Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel, Georges Brassens and Charles Aznavour among others. The last one was the generation of young guns that got big in late 70s or during the 80s including Francis Cabrel, Daniel Balavoine, Michel Berger, Renaud, Jean-Jacques Goldman, Mylène Farmer, Patrick Bruel, Patricia Kaas or Florent Pagny. In-between those two groups were big 60-80 artists that had two major flagships, Johnny Hallyday and our current artist Michel Sardou.
The latter two are quite simply the two best selling artists of all-time in France. In a mixture of never ending success and favorable market context they managed to sell more records in France than the Beatles or Elvis Presley in UK.
Such enormous sales required gigantic successes to be achieved, Les Lacs Du Connemara was one of them. Its lead single Etre Une Femme was a big hit too, selling upwards 600,000 units and topping charts. The album was huge right from the start thanks to this song. It wasn’t over yet as second single, the title track Les Lacs Du Connemara was bigger than earth, selling a terrific 1,5 million units. Up to now this song remains one of the most well know French songs ever.
The album dominated charts quickly jumping over Gold and Platinum levels and even getting close to the million mark by the end of the promotional campaign. The compilation Ses Plus Grandes Chansons covering hits from this album was released as early as 1984 preventing the original to accumulate relevant catalog sales. The set still sold almost 1,2 million copies overall by 1990, including an estimated 150,000 copies abroad. Since that point it is very far from being a big catalog seller since the large discography favors the purchase of hits packages. It was still selling a few in early 90s yet, plus 25 years of low catalog sales are still enough to amount for 80,000 units.
Net shipment as of the end of 2015 is estimated at 1,130,000 copies.
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Sources: SNEP, Nielsen, Platine, Billboard.