If there’s anything I’ve learned from covering pop music for over a decade, it’s that songwriters and collaborators are just as important as the artists themselves. Though they often work behind the scenes, this feature is a chance to shine the light on some of k-pop’s most innovative and accomplished producers and composers.
Years active: 2009-present (in K-pop)
His sound: As diverse a musical palette as you can imagine, Lee’s work has drawn from almost every conceivable genre. A strong melody is always at the core, often culminating in a huge power pop chorus.
Why you should love him: Steven Lee’s work encompasses J-pop just as strongly as it does K-pop, and if you follow any acts from Japan’s Johnny’s Entertainment you’ve likely heard his songs before. He brings a classic touch to his Korean material, having worked in the industry for a decade. Like most Western composers, the vast majority of his tracks are created in collaboration with other producers. This gives his discography a far-reaching appeal while tailoring sounds to specific artists and regions. His songs dabble in trends, but are always rooted in a timeless quality that guarantees longevity.
Examples of his best work:
Not K-pop, and not the entire song, but it’s one of my absolute favorites: