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Is Billie Eilish giving you tingles? How ASMR made it into the mainstream

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Ellie Norris
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Billie Eilish can add ASMR icon to her list of accolades as fans notice the likeness between her chart-topping album and the techniques used within the internet phenomenon. As the powers of ASMR are being recognised, does this mean we’re shortly going to be hearing it a lot more?  

The online world of ASMR (or autonomous sensory meridian response) began in a small corner of YouTube for those who experience the ‘tingles’ produced by the videos. Since then, the phenomenon has snowballed into an industry of ‘AMSRtists’; many have amassed millions of subscribers on the video sharing platform.

If you experience ASMR, the sound or visual will result in a tingling sensation beginning on your head and travelling down your spine. The feeling has been dubbed as a ‘brain orgasm’ and it has a cult following, with millions of viewers using the videos to help them fall asleep every night. 

Celebrities have also been getting in on the action and trying their hand at inducing ‘tingles’, including Gigi Hadid, Jake Gyllenhaal and Alexa Chung. Cardi B admitted that her husband Offset thinks it’s ‘very weird’ that she watches ASMR every night before bed; a video of her doing ASMR has received over 30.5 million views.

We took a deep dive into the world of ASMR and spoke to Emma Smith – known online as Whispers Red – who has gained 830,000 followers by posting videos such as ASMR Back Scratch Whisper Massage. Read that article here.   

But ASMR is no longer seen as a strange occurrence, found only after falling into a YouTube rabbit hole during a late-night scroll; the method is now being used in both music and marketing.

Many Twitter users have pointed out that Billie Eilish’s latest album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do You Go? sounds a lot like ASMR and this could be a reason for why a lot of people love it. 

However, ASMR isn’t for everyone and some have linked their dislike of the sounds to why they aren’t Billie’s biggest fans. 

One of the most common aspects of an ASMR video is someone whispering in very close range to the mic, a method recognisable in Billie Eilish’s alternative style of singing. 

It’s been reported that the 17-year-old music sensation wanted to make use of her popularity within the ASMR community as her producers contacted YouTube creator ‘Gibi ASMR’ to create a video tribute to the album on the day it was released.

As well as music, the technique is being utilised in adverts. Back in February, the huge audience watching the NFL Super Bowl got to watch an ad for new beer ‘Pure Gold’ in which Zoe Kravitz sat atop a mountain, whispering into two microphones. For those who knew nothing about the world of ASMR, it was baffling and had many thumbing their way through YouTube trying to understand what on earth was going on. The Twitter response was definitely mixed.

The ad certainly brought the phenomenon into the mainstream and ASMR’s cult following is continuing to grow. Earlier this year Billie Eilish became the youngest woman to top the UK Official Albums Chart so her use of the technique proved popular, whether she used it deliberately or not.

So, whether or not you enjoy watching ASMR, this could mean we’re going to experience people trying to give us ‘the tingles’ as part of everyday life. 

Images: Getty