France best selling albums ever: Scène De Vie by Patricia Kaas (1990)
Releasing a sophomore album 18 months after the debut is quite normal. Doing it while your debut album is still Top 10 is much more atypical, let alone when you switched from one label (Polydor) to another (CBS) in-between.
That’s exactly the risky decision Patricia Kaas took after the smash of her debut album Mademoiselle Chante…, an album that was closing in the million mark when Scène De Vie was released in April 1990. Debuting #2 behind Depeche Mode hit album Violator, this was barely due to the bi-weekly charts creating 6 days to 14 days of sales competing together. During the following five bi-weekly charts, the album will easily sit at #1. Those two albums are responsible of the #3 peak of Madonna album I’m Breathless that hasn’t manage to dislodge them.
Until the end of November, the album never dropped below #6. While singles weren’t doing wonders as singles, they were all supporting strongly the album. This set seemed to follow the path of its predecessor in France, abroad, it did even better, breaking the doors of various countries to end up selling as many copies outside France than in her native country. By the end of 1990, the set completing 2xPlatinum status, representing 600,000 copies, from a total of 800,000 worldwide.
During the year 1991, the album resisted well despite not selling large amounts, accumulating nine more months inside the Top 50. This was enough to bring the total sales to 800,000 copies by July, plus 350,000 units elsewhere, but not enough to pass the million mark domestically. As it was still floating around the low Top 50 for a couple of more months, plus continuous sales although off the radar after that, sales were on 900,000 copies by May 1992, plus 900,000 abroad too. This revealed how much sales outside have been accelerating, ultimately topping local sales, an impressive result for a purely French album.
Despite never entering a single week on charts since 1991, not even the catalog chart, the album was still selling especially during Je Te Dis Vous success in 1993-4 and Dans Ma Chair era in 1997-8. This enabled Scène De Vie to crack the million mark in October 1998. For once, this award is date-specific as her own Dans Ma Chair was updated a few months earlier in April, meaning Scène De Vie million was reached really close to its certification date.
Pace of sales was already rather low so it couldn’t have been much higher when certified Diamond. The various hits packages released since 2001 have completely killed this original studio album which is the weakest catalog seller out of her three million sellers. Ranking right now at an abysmal #62,652 ranking on Amazon.fr, the album is pretty much dead.
Net shipment as of the end of 2015 is estimated at 1,060,000 copies.
As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!
Sources: SNEP, Nielsen, Billboard, L’évènement du Jeudi, Platine.