France best selling albums ever: Panique Celtique by Manau (1998)
Brittany, the region at the very west of France, always had a highly developed local culture. This can be verified in many aspects and music is no exception. From this region, Dan Ar Braz, Alan Stivell or more recently Nolwenn Leroy have been quite successful in France. Nobody came even close to Manau smash yet as they took France by storm in 1998.
What got considered as the first – and, to be honest, the last – “celtic rap” act dropped out of the blue their first single, La Tribu De Dana. More than a hit, the song was instantly a nation anthem. Being #1 all summer long, that blockbuster single sold in excess of 1,5 million in France, spending its first 23 weeks inside the Top 3 despite huge competition from songs like My Heart Will Go On (Celine Dion) or Belle (Notre-Dame De Paris).
The single was so big that Panique Celtique parent album was one of the biggest starters for a debut album ever, shipping 200,000 copies within’ a couple of weeks, despite a July release. By September it was up to 550,000 units. The momentum hasn’t slow down even after the single collapse, accumulating 48 out of its 49 first weeks inside the Top 10, including five weeks at #1 spread between July 1998 and January 1999. The album sold a staggering 1 million copies by early March 1999 when it was still holding firmly a Top 3 placing.
After completing 1998 as the 5th bestseller of the year, it repeated the same placing in 1999. Rivals weren’t equal yet, in fact, while this ranking represented almost 1 million copies sold in 1998, the album did 600,000 the following year. By August 2001, Panique Celtique had sold 2 million copies. This is a worldwide figure, including over 300,000 copies abroad.
While obviously not the biggest catalog seller, the album shows itself time to time on back catalog charts, including in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2013. In total, estimates post 2001 sales are on 130,000, plus the 1,65 million it had sold by then.
Net shipment as of the end of 2015 is estimated at 1,780,000 copies.
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Sources: SNEP, IFOP, RFI Musique, Le Parisien.