ASMR is more mainstream than ever - but what is it?!

lara larsson with top knot and black top

Zara Larsson uses ASMR to relax after shows


ASMR is one of those terms you hear now and again and pretend you know what it means but you don't really. It’s certainly not a new term either but it just keeps cropping up so it’s about time you knew what it was. It’s also very much a young person thing with advocates like Zara Larsson and Billie Eilish so if you want to be able to speak to your TikTok-loving niece, you best know a thing or two about ASMR.


What is ASMR?


First of all, it stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. Come again? That's right, you read that right, not very catchy eh. Some people initially thought it was a kink, and no doubt as with anything you can make it one.



It’s more to do with whispering or creating/listening to very soft specific sounds that give you a tingling sensation that starts at the back of the head and then moves down to the front and then down your neck. So basically you can’t help it happening and it’s both pleasurable and relaxing at the same time. Sound familiar? No wonder people think of it as a sexual fetish.


radio 1 relax logo

And....relax. Radio 1 starts new spin off channel


So other than whispering or singing very softly, ASMR artists do things like eat popping candy or tear paper into the microphone. The things that can be done to create ASMR soundtracks are infinite, from blowing bubbles, crunching biscuits to just any weirdly mundane sounds really.


Time to chillax


ASMR is incredibly popular, far more so than you probably realise with over 10 million You Tube accounts dedicated to it and more recently as more and more of us wish to take step back from our busy lives, the music industry has been drawn to the artistry (and popularity) of the relaxing sounds. A few weeks ago ASMR went even more mainstream as part of new Radio 1 spin-off station called Relax.


billie eilish at billboard awards with green hat and mask

Billie Eilish commissioned a whole ASMR version of her album


Hang on a minute, that sounds like Chill or Classic FM right? You’d be right. Relaxing, looking after one’s mental health and just winding down has become a vital part of everyone’s day. During the past year, anxiety levels have gone off the charts so it unsurprising that people are looking for a little escapism or moments of calm.



Zara Larsson says she uses ASMR to unwind after a frantic show and ASMR artist Gibi has more than three million subscribers on YouTube channel, was even approached by Billie Eilish’s people to do a sensory cover of her album, clearly as clued in as ever to what her fans are clamouring for.



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