France best selling albums ever: Sarbacane by Francis Cabrel (1989)
Considering the amount of success received by Francis Cabrel after this album it is hard to believe that during 12 years and six albums up to 1989 he still had to get close to the million mark.
Although peaking at a modest #30 in the Singles Chart, the title track Sarbacane was heavily praised by Medias as well as the public. The album responded accordingly by sitting four months in a row in the Top 5. Released in February, by late August the album was up to 400,000 units already, challenging his previous best sellers. This was just the beginning of a new, 20 years era of blockbuster sales for Francis Cabrel.
Second single C’Est Écrit ended to convince the main audience, rocketing the album to #1 for 10 weeks during the fourth quarter while being Top 10 (#6) in the Singles Chart as well. Sales obviously exploded, within’ a few months the record went from Gold to 3xPlatinum (900,000). Calculated sales for the year 1989 are a massive 923,000 units.
Two more singles kept the train rolling in 1990, Animal and Tout Le Monde Y Pense, just like the previous two, are still radio favorites 27 years after release. In total, the album spent over 10 months Top 5 and 14 months Top 10. Going Diamond in early 1990, it sold a calculated 346,000 copies that year and 197,000 more in 1991.
Even after its promotion, the album continued selling for years. By the release of follow up monster album Samedi Soir Sur La Terre in April 1994, Sarbacane was over 1,6 million units. When Hors-Saison came out in early 1999, its sales exceeded 1,7 million for long, soon to be closing in 2 million worldwide including 1,8 million in France.
Despite staying in the shadow of its illustruous 1994 follower, Sarbacane remains a very good catalog seller, selling about half of the 375,000 units sold by Samedi Soir Sur La Terre since late 1999.
Net shipment as of the end of 2015 is estimated at 1,975,000 copies.
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Sources: SNEP, Nielsen, GFK, Le Monde, L’Express, Le Point.