Yes, ASMR Is Growing into a “Thing” — And Rightly So 🎧

The Internet phenomenon has a lot to offer in the way of relaxation and aesthetic bliss.

There are SO many cinematic masterpieces that have been born out of the ASMR community — and I am not even lowering my standards when I say that. In this post, I want to introduce you to some of my absolute favorites, though this is only meant as a way to get a taste for the kinds of things that ASMR can be.

I will admit, ASMR gets a bed rep on YouTube, though I see that as its presence on the platform grows, it has become more of a commonplace thing, less shunned and more embraced. As someone who has been watching the content creators grow for the past 6–7 years or so, I am very excited. The quality and originality of videos are being fostered by the growing demand and support.

If you have had some prejudices about the types of videos that generally make it into the ASMR category on YouTube (you know what I am talking about), this list will be a perfect jumping-off point for discovering a much deeper and more textured community of audio-visual creators. On the other hand, if you are already a seasoned listener who takes comfort in their predilections, then I believe that my recommendations will serve as little rabbit holes and as slight nudges to refresh your YouTube algorithm.

So come join me on a quick trip through the land of soft speaking, whispering, tapping, and quality microphones!

The Death of Mozart (Atlas ASMR)

We are starting off sombre yet celestial with this self-contained masterpiece. Clocking in at exactly 26 minutes, the story takes us on a journey through — you guessed it — the last 26 minutes of Mozart’s life. As the musical genius entrusts us with the transcription by ear of the final work of his prodigious career (transcription of this sort being something that Mozart himself was particularly good at), we can do nothing but listen to the development — and later, fading — of his creative outburst.

The intensity of the music itself — Confutatis and Lacrymosa from Mozart’s infamous Requiem in D Minor — which waxes and wanes in the background as it is composed, is truly something else in my humble ASMR experience. The vigour of the pieces works surprisingly well when juxtaposed with the delicate stillness of the room, emphasizing the sweeping undercurrent of genius that still resides below the facade of a sickly man. An all around beautiful piece of work that vivifies and harrows concurrently.

Sci — Fi. Minerals (ATMOSPHERE)

Since every video put out by Anastasia — the creator of the ATMOSPHERE channel — is a work of art in its own right, I find it difficult to recommend just one. I have decided to choose this particular video because I am a sucker for pretty pictures, so the glittering minerals and the CGI fractals that are constantly being forced into my eyes as I watch are stunning and oh so satisfying.

Of course, the sounds are exquisite. The crackling of the crystals, the sweeping of the brush over the face, the muffled voice behind the space mask… All of it creates a symphony of relaxing delight.

An especially unique aspect of Anastasia’s ASMR content is that she dubs in her voice and the sounds during post-production, resulting in a disembodied audio-visual experience. Something is not quite right as one watches these videos… The lips do not quite line up with the words, and the sounds are intensified in obviously artificial ways, but it all adds to the magic that is ATMOSPHERE.

⚠️ There is only one warning: This might not be the best ASMRtist to go to sleep to, because you will be forcing yourself awake to see what happens next. The storyline is just too enticing.

If your are a fan of lore or detective work, then this might be the channel for you. Anastasia even has a secret channel Google Doc to keep track of all of the fan theories that the community has come up with through her delightful easter eggs. Drawing links between the adventures of a lonely astronaut engaging in space exploration and a Victorian lady visiting a button-obsessed tailor is tiring work to be sure — but ATMOSPHERE delivers, and the comments section is more than willing to connect the dots while the listeners of other ASMR channels have already headed off to bed.

Dragon Egg Shopping at Maybell’s Menagerie (Goodnight Moon)

In any discussion of ASMR lore, there is another creator that just HAS to be mentioned: Goodnight Moon. Her creativity in building captivating personalities from the ground up is matched only by her acting chops, which bring each character to life as if utilizing a cast of twenty, rather than one.

Once again, it is difficult to choose just one recommendation from the many Goodnight Moon videos that I return to for comfort. However, this portrayal of a fantasy veterinarian who wants to show you all of the dragon eggs that you can buy from her is particularly delightful. The music adds to the whole experience, and the adorable, quirky personality of Maybell is what gets me to return to this video again and again.

It must be noted that Goodnight Moon’s set design is always superb. She shops around for vintage items and unique buys that can enhance the space. In this way, she foregoes the green screen — despite the fantasy setting of her main video series on Babblebrook, her imaginary town — and instead opts for a much more tangible and intimate approach.

One of my favorite things about the way that Goodnight Moon approaches ASMR filmmaking is her focus on the smallest details of her surroundings. She most often achieves this by shooting a jar of mystery goop, or some dust suspended in air, or another diverting scene, while the character is talking to us, a visitor to the town. Although I do not know where she finds half the appropriate props that she does (including the dragon eggs in this particular video recommendation), I know that she is doing great by taking the time to justifiably show them off to us.

The way that she edits it all together, it seems like we are the rude listener who is too enthralled by the details of life at Babblebrook to pay attention to what is being said to us. The characters themselves never seem to notice, nor mind, which is for the best, as there will always be something of interest to divert the eye.

I will be adding to this list with new discoveries in further posts, so follow my Medium blog for more! Until then, happy watching and listening — and try not to go to sleep too soon, or you will miss the story and the aesthetics!

Duke University ’23 🏫 Writer @sailors.n.yachts ⛵️ worldschooling/unschooling ✏️ 9 countries, 3 continents, 2 boarding schools, 10 languages 🏫