Brain Food: It'll never fly - Tribute bands

'Thank you for the music, the song I'm singing,' crooned Abba in 1983. Those words must resonate with the hundreds of acts now making a living off the Swedish supergroup's success. For journeyman musicians, the tribute band - based on a tenuous likeness to a pop star and a meticulous peddling of their back catalogue - offers a convenient shortcut to the spotlight and a ready-made fan-base without the hassle of writing new stuff. Indeed, the awful puns in the band names confirm that the tribute scene isn't awash with creativity: NU2, Pink Fraud and the Clone Roses, and the gender-bending AC/DShe and Mandonna (kudos to the more straight-talking We're Not Motorhead). People are clearly happy to pay to see average bands rehashing the old greats. As well as the thousands of tributes entertaining UK pub-goers, the Glastonbudget tribute band festival in Leicestershire draws more than 10,000 punters every year. Tribute musicals are raking it in too. Judy Craymer, creator of Mamma Mia!, says her Abba homage, which has grossed £1 billion at the box office, earns her £4 million a year. So mimicking Abba seems an assured route to 'money, money, money'.

Australian tribute band Bjorn Again is now an international franchise with five acts earning millions in three continents. Mamma mia.

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