France best selling albums ever: The Score by the Fugees (1996)
After selling a mere 10,000 of their debut album in France, the Fugees weren’t really a safe bet to top 1996 Year End chart. That’s exactly what they did yet.
Their second album The Score was released in February 1996 with almost no support. It’s entry at #45 of the album chart was pretty much a surprise and a good indicator of the potential it had. In fact, as big as a hit Roberta Flack cover Killing Me Softly was, the song was released in late June, over four months after the album.
Time for the song to gain traction on radio, the album responded positively, increasing its sales along with the single airplay. After three months of climb, it entered the Top 10. Some three more months saw The Score climb all the way to #1 where it stayed for eight weeks becoming the record of the summer. They did the chart double single/album #1 for five weeks.
Those performances were especially impressive if we take into account new airplay laws setting a 40% minimum airtime for local releases on all stations. Subsequent singles weren’t as big as Killing Me Softly but were able to support the album quite nicely. Enough at least to make it the top seller of 1996, although the competition was quite abysmal. This is without mentioning that Bienvenue Chez Moi by Florent Pagny was the real bestseller of the year but was restricted to the compilation chart.
Still, the near 900,000 copies sold during 1996 offered to the album a Diamond certification in May 1997 representing 1 million sales. All three group members went solo after this album, including Lauryn Hill that has been very successful with her only studio album the Miseducation Of.
This departure from the band preventing from getting extra / future promotion for this record, although it remained an OK catalog seller. Never charting in 98/99, this was mostly due to the short format of the chart as there is little doubt The Score would have got additional weeks if a Top 200 was available during Lauryn Hill heydays. After the chart extension to a Top 150 (from a Top 75) in 2001 it did re-enter four weeks in the summer of that year.
On 1,05 million by the end of 1997, the album sold an estimated 100,000 units from 1998 to 2001 and 60,000 since.
Net shipment as of the end of 2015 is estimated at 1,210,000 copies.
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Sources: SNEP, IFOP.