This week in weird stuff on the internet: Hayley Williams of Paramore released a YouTube video in which she whispers, eats crisps, drinks a drink very loudly.
Why does this exist? Because some people experience ASMR, aka autonomous sensory meridian response, a condition that means certain sounds cause you to experience a pleasant, tingly feeling on your scalp, or around the top of your spine. Sounds weird, has in fact been around for a while – by late 2016, approximately 5.2 million ASMR videos had been uploaded to YouTube.
It’s been described as a “brain massage”, and people all over the world watch similar videos – usually someone seeming to give you their undivided attention – to de-stress or drift off to sleep of an evening. Experts explain that it’s about feelings of intimacy and empathy. If you think this sounds like a weird sex thing – no, as it happens, this isn’t a weird sex thing, though the phenomena has been nicknamed a “brain orgasm”. In 2015, a study found that 98 percent of ASMR-loving respondents use the videos to simply relax, while for 70 percent it was stress relief. Only 5 percent said it’s about sexual stimulation (for those people, may we recommend the very whispery ‘Je T’aime Moi Non Plus’ from Jane Birkin and Serge Gainboroug…). There are plenty of songs, too, with evocative sounds – brittle beats, tongue clicks and more – that’ll appeal to those who experience ASMR.
Again, there’s nothing massively revolutionary about this – people were listening to CDs of waves crashing and whale sounds to relax in the ’90s. But the internet’s opened up a whole new world of ASMR goodness, with YouTube videos of strangers clicking their fingers, or even chewing gum loudly for your aural pleasure. Here, then, are the best songs for people blessed with ASMR. If you don’t have it, this may be somewhat baffling – but if you do, oh boy, will you enjoy ASMR-inspired playlist below. For anyone else, it’s just some really great songs.
From the tongue-clicks of Janelle Monae’s ‘Make Me To Feel’ to the crunchy bite of an apple that punctuates Superorganism’s ‘Something For Your M.I.N.D’ (surely the quintessential ASMR song?), via actual Macca munching carrots on The Beach Boys’ ‘Vegetables’ and the general click-fest that is the Soulwax remix of Metronomy’s ‘Love Letters’, step this way to ASMR nirvana.