France best selling albums ever: Rock ‘N’ Roll Attitude by Johnny Hallyday (1985)
Factoring in only studio and live sets, Johnny Hallyday never ending discography adds for more than 100 albums. Nevertheless, 1985 LP Rock ‘N’ Roll Attitude is a stand-out record for the artist in several distinct aspects.
Responsible of 43 studio albums from 1961 to 1984, the pace of releases from the legendary singer was an absolute madness. All his albums got one or two singles tops, promoted during a few months only before moving to the next record. They were made of translated covers from American popular hits or fresh new songs by various authors, mostly unknown ones.
Rock ‘N’ Roll Attitude was the first true album-era of Johnny Hallyday getting as many as four singles. From that release, he started to drop at most one album every two years. Rock ‘N’ Roll Attitude is also the first record fully written and composed by an artist who’s widely popular on his own, Michel Berger.
#13 lead single La Chanteur Abandonné was a decent hit. Added to the fanbase of the artist, it sent the album to a #4 entry on monthly June 1985 chart in spite of a release on June 26. In July ranking, the LP climbed to #2. Never sitting inside the Top 10 again after that, Rock ‘N’ Roll Attitude was still a solid success with six additional months inside the Top 20. The main driver of that consistency was iconic third single Quelque Chose de Tennessee. A #10 hit back in the day, it is one of the most remembered tracks of Johnny Hallyday by now. This song brought a lot of new fans to the artist among the younger generation after a few years of decreasing popularity.
Sales-wise, the album went Platinum, representing 400,000 units, in the first half of 1985. By the end of its run, it was up to half a million sales. One of the rare albums from the rocker that saw no live nor compilation released just after its own run, Rock ‘N’ Roll Attitude added some sales until Johnny A Bercy went #1 for 4 weeks in 1988. After that, it never reappeared on charts until its 30th anniversary reissue that went #66 in 2015. Selling a total of 640,000 units on its own, that is far from being a million…
…never underestimate Johnny Hallyday power yet. As the profile of the artist kept growing again and again and singles from that album plus its follow up, Gang, became cult after some years, a 2CD pack of both records came out in 1995. Titled Paroles d’Hommes, that box sold insane numbers in part thanks to the live song Diego, from Michel Berger too, which got added to the package. An 11 weeks Top 10 record, it was Top 5 during the complete Christmas season, even peaking at #2 behind Celine Dion all-time top seller D’Eux. This edition sold 540,000 units, almost as much as the original record.
Net shipment as of the end of 2016 is estimated at 1,180,000 copies.
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Sources: SNEP, IFOP, Billboard.