The Rise of ASMR

Designed by: Leanne Soh Li-En (21-E6)

A pretty lady moves her hands slowly and whispers into both your ears, perhaps simultaneously crumpling paper or clacking her nails on a keyboard. Although this scene may seem strange to some, many others are captivated by and find solace in this: a typical ASMR video. 

Started in 2010, ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response and is defined as a feeling of well-being combined with a tingling sensation, as experienced by some people in response to a specific gentle stimulus, often a particular sound. The trend took off on YouTube in 2013 and there are currently a whopping 13 million videos providing people with ASMR-eliciting sounds to date. What is ASMR, actually? Why do people listen to these sounds anyway?  How did the ASMR community expand so fast? 

ASMR audio is more than just gentle tapping in rhythm, contrary to what most who do not watch ASMR videos believe. These stimulating sounds can also include mouth sounds such as licking and lip smacking as well as the crumpling of plastic wraps. Besides that, there are roleplaying videos, where the creator acts out a scenario with the listener, such as in boyfriend roleplay. In short, the range of videos triggering these tingles is vast and there is a variety of content to cater to different people’s needs. 

So how does ASMR actually work? Well, ASMR usually invokes tingles in listeners that start at the scalp area. Gradually, as they continue listening, the tingling sensations may spread to the rest of the body, including their neck, spine and other sensitive areas. These help create an overall calming and happy feeling that many listeners enjoy. 

However, many find these videos to be cringe-inducing, strange or even disgusting. A case in point is the trigger of mouth sounds whereby creators, or ‘ASMRtists’ as they have coined themselves, can be seen licking microphones that mimic human ears. It is understandable that such an act can be seen as inappropriate and sometimes they truly are. It must be noted though, that such videos are exceptions, and the majority of ASMR videos are made with the simple motive of bringing relaxation to the bunch of people who seek comfort in hearing such sounds. 

So why is it still so popular with so many, to the point of being needed? The biggest reason is because ASMR can help people to calm down and relax. Notable features of ASMR videos include their quietness as well as the intimacy that they create, which makes so many people enjoy listening to them to unwind and destress after a long day. Some ASMR videos are actually specifically made to help people sleep, revealing their effectiveness in helping people relieve the stresses and anxiety built up throughout the day. 

The intimacy created by the ASMRtists also leads to another reason that people listen to them: companionship. Specifically, romantic companionship. Many ASMRtists do “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” roleplays in their ASMR videos, and these often include taking care of the listener while they’re sick, or helping to calm them down before a stressful event. These provide a sense of intimacy and can even simulate an event in a real relationship, helping to  ease the loneliness that many listeners may feel in their own lives. After all, who doesn’t like receiving personal attention and being carefully taken care of? 

So, it makes sense that some people enjoy listening to ASMR videos. But these videos, as helpful as they may be to some, seem catered to a very specific portion of online users and would therefore probably be very niche under normal circumstances. So why are they exploding in popularity now? 

One of the reasons is skyrocketing stress levels. Across the globe, students and workers are facing (among other things) astronomical amounts of stress. Their fast-paced lives don’t really allow them to indulge in their hobbies or take frequent vacations for some good ol’ TLC, so these overworked, over-stressed people have begun turning to other sources for relaxation and calming of frazzled nerves. One of these sources is ASMR. In addition to the emotional and psychological benefits we’ve examined above, ASMR can also provide physical comfort through the tingling sensations that it triggers, which can help listeners to relax. It’s also a good solution to nightly insomnia caused by stress, aiding many to get their much needed sleep instead of tossing and turning the entire night. 

Another reason is the global community it’s been able to foster. Before ASMR came onto the scene, many online users were already discovering the tingling sensations that they felt upon coming into contact with different triggers. Confusion and curiosity naturally led them to scour the ever-developing and advancing internet for answers, through which they discovered people who felt similar sensations, leading to the rise of ASMR and the formation of the community behind it. On Reddit, 130,000 ASMR enthusiasts are part of the r/asmr reddit community, showing just how strong and connected these people have become thanks to ASMR. 

So the next time you stumble upon an ASMR video and feel those tingling sensations start to creep across your body, know that there is a good reason for that, and that there are many around the world who share those sensations. If you’re feeling adventurous and have got time on your hands, maybe pick up a microphone, and start whispering into it. Who knows, you might become the next biggest ASMRtist. 


  1. Lopez, G. (2015, July 15). ASMR, explained: Why millions of people are watching YouTube videos of someone whispering. Vox.
  2. ASMR: Defintion, the Science, & examples. (2021, April 8).

¿?sick beats?¿ August 2021 Edition

Designed by: Lay Kai En, Ashley (21-O1)

When most of us hear “xinyao”, we think of songs that our parents or even our grandparents sing at karaoke. These songs may seem distant, maybe even foreign. But in the August edition of Sick Beats, the team has decided to recommend some nostalgic 歌曲s to you. 

细水长流 – Liang Wern Fook

This song describes the friendships we make during our growing up years, until saying goodbye to each other when we decide to pursue different paths in life. If fate permits, we may meet each other again soon. It was especially relevant in our grandparents/parents era, where without technology, it was difficult to keep in contact with each other, hence relationships were more precious and unforgettable. Listening to this song, you will realise the importance of true friends.

我们这一班  – 颜黎明

Have you guys heard of the 成语 :小时了了, 大未必佳? It came from this song, which describes a reality that has passed us. However, the meaning behind this song is an ideal school culture that every kid wishes to have experienced. Many of you will probably relate to this, relating this to early years of primary school. Though the original singer has passed on, this song will not fade from our memory anytime soon. 

小幸运 – Hebe Tien

First loves, missed opportunities, unrequited love and even platonic friendships. A short song carries all these themes. This song was part of the soundtrack of the movie, 我的少女时代, a comedy-drama in the setting of a highschool. Despite its sweet melody, the lyrics carry the heavy weight of regret, reminding us that one’s first love may not always come true, but stays in the heart forever. 

邂逅 – Eric Moo (巫启贤) & Huang Huizhen

The title of the song, which means 事先没有相约而遇见, directly translates to encounter/meeting by chance. This was one of the OG songs that made 新遥 popular, and was sung by 18 year old, 巫启贤, in the 1980s. The song achieved great heights in the local music industry then, and is the favourite of many Gen Ys now. Maybe you will enjoy this tune too!

童话- Michael Wong (光良)

Released in January of 2005, this song swept the whole of Asia a decade ago. Then, it was foreigners’ favourite song to sing at KTVs. The song depicts a love story mirroring a fairy tale. It presents the sacrifice that the protagonist puts in just to make his significant other happy. Nowadays, to find such a precious gem in a guy, is really worth it to keep leh. This song probably portrayed many ideals of love in our parents’ generation.

Kopi O- Eric Moo

Kopi O is a Cantonese song released in the early 1980s by Eric Moo. It was part of a SBC drama from the heartlander series “The Coffee Shop?”,an eponymous coffee shop, this song was one of the most memorable opening theme songs, with its chorus of “Kopi-O! Kopi-O!”

Step by step- Liang wern fook

This was one of Liang’s most popular songs. Among a series of catchy songs that capture life travails and joy, it was one of the favourite songs at the Sing50 mega concert

想着你的感觉-liang wern fook

Released in 1991, this song is a pop song that can be categorized as xinyao.The original composer was Liang Wern Fook, but was made famous because of Eric Moo The song talks about the emotions and longing felt after breakup and is still played on radio stations today.

等你等到我心痛-singer Jacky cheung and written by 黎沸挥

This song has a catchy tune and is fast paced, talking about how a person waits for his lover’s feelings to change but to no avail. The song describes a sense of loss, employing the Chinese phrase 心痛 as a metaphor for physical and mental pain to make the lyrics more appealing.

All these songs are oldies that we probably come across once in a while, but they were actually incredibly popular in our parents and/or grandparents generations. Do you remember listening to any of them, if not, no harm listening to these songs now! These songs are incredibly important as records about Singaporean history and the local music evolution.