France best selling albums ever: Louise Attaque by Louise Attaque (1997)
Folk / Rock band Louise Attaque band name was given as a tribute to Violent Femmes band, of which the leader produced Louise Attaque‘s self-titled debut album. Released in 1997, this minorrelease went on to become the bestselling Rock album of all-time.
An anonymous band and record, this April 1997 release failed to chart until August, finally entering the Top 50 at #48. Staying ranked until the end of the year, the album never went higher than #24 on its first year yet. This was enough to sell almost 200,000 units copies of the album still. One statistic illustrates perfectly how slowly the album climbed: On a short Top 50 chart, it out-peaked itself 16 times. The very last new peak happened in May 1998 when it reached the #1 spot.
Accumulating 10 weeks at the top during the summer of the most competitive year ever, Louise Attaque was a real society phenomenon. By July, it was already on 800,000 copies sold. In September 5 it crossed the million according to Le Monde and in early December, sales were up to an unbelievable 1,600,000. How has this happen?
First the most insane word of mouth ever seen and second three consecutive singles becoming absolute cult songs – J’t’emmène Au Vent, Ton Invitation and Léa. Those violin-axed Rock tracks flooded air time of most medias as excitement around each of their new single took off.
Although ending the year as “only” the 3rd bestseller – highlighting how unreal the competition from Notre-Dame de Paris musical and Titanic soundtrack was -it still sold obviously insane amounts. During 1999, the album dropped as slowly as it climbed charts the year before. Reaching 2 million overall sales, including 1,825,000 in France by early April, this total passed the 2 million mark locally in 1999 itself.
While that total was already incredibly, the album transformed itself into some kind of French Dark Side Of The Moon, the ultimate Pink Floyd classic album well-known for being the bestselling catalog studio album ever. In fact, charting Top 100 in each 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003, the album totaled 172 weeks in the list before the introduction of 2-year limit rule.
By April 2005, total sales were already on 2,375,000 in France out of a 2,6 million total. From that date until 2009, Louise Attaque album was still enjoying incredible catalog sales, reaching Top 10 mid-price ranking every year, adding 40,000 copies on average each. By December 2009, the total was now up to 2,56 million in France out of a 2,8 million total.
Since chart rules changed in 2011 to allow back catalog albums to chart, Louise Attaque added 74 weeks to its tally, over 5 months per year. Selling an average of 600 copies per week / 30,000 units per year, its sales are now up to a massive 2,74 million in France from a 3 million total.
Those sales make Louise Attaque debut record the bestselling album ever in each category among rock albums, among albums by a band and among debut albums.
Net shipment as of the end of 2015 is estimated at 2,740,000 copies.
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Sources: SNEP, IFOP, Le Parisien, RFI Musique, Libération.