France best selling albums ever: Notre-Dame De Paris Musical (1998)
Even if legendary French musical Starmania was first released in 1978, albums related to the franchise sold over 2 million copies during the 90s. This gave ideas to its lyricist Luc Plamandon who wrote some twenty years later a new musical, Notre-Dame de Paris, along with his composition partner Richard Cocciante.
Giving the keys to mostly unknown singers like Hélène Ségara, Garou or Patrick Fiori, the success story wasn’t written from day one. In most, the album was released eight months prior to the stage premiere and with no single on airwaves. Opening at a low #45, the album left the Top 75 after five weeks, suffering from relatively random performances from lead single Vivre by Noa.
A few months later, second single Belle by Garou, Patrick Fiori and Daniel Lavoie entered at #96 and then evolved 75-69-81, which was hardly promising. Airplay started to pick up during upcoming months yet generating the most unbelievable chart run of all-time. On its week 6, the single reached the Top 20, during week 9 it entered the Top 10, on week 17, it goes Top 5. As it wasn’t enough, the single reaches #1 when most songs are already out, on its week 19. The complete madness started at that point as the single would go on to lead during a massive 18 weeks, getting an unreal 2,5 million sales, by very far the best selling song of the decade.
The album run mirrored the one of Belle. Hitting #1 on its 28th week, the album completed four months at 1, including the entire Christmas season. During the four weeks of December, Belle was #1 in the singles chart, follow up Le Temps Des Cathédrales was Top 10 (by Bruno Pelletier), the album was #1 and the double CD live version of it released as a standalone album was #2, both topping monster Celine Dion album S’Il Suffisait D’Aimer.
As for sales, by September 1998 the album was on 1,1 million already. The roll wasn’t going to stop yet, by early December sales were up to an unreal 1,5 million.
In June 1999, in French speaking countries alone Notre-Dame De Paris album broke the 3 million units bareer. This included 600,000 units in Canada, Switzerland and Belgium, letting a gigantic 2,4 million copies sold in France. At that point, the album was leaving the Top 10 but stayed Top 75 until March 2000. Considering its run until the end of 2001, estimated sales at that point amount for 2,7 million copies in France. Selling 20,000 copies a year in 2002/2003 this figure has been reduced since to 5,000 copies a year by now. Still, in the 14 years since the last covered period, the album sold an estimated 125,000 units.
Net shipment as of the end of 2015 is estimated at 2,825,000 copies.
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Sources: SNEP, IFOP, IFPI, Billboard, RFI Musique, Le Parisien.