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 J-pop’s most innovative and accomplished producers and composers.
Years active: 2003-present
Associated Acts: M!LK, Daisuke Ono, ЯeaL, Bullet Train, MAG!C ☆ PRINCE, Sexy Zone, News
His sound: Bold melodies with a sense of emotional catharsis. Brassy undertones, driving percussion and chorused vocal hooks. A BIG sound.
Why you should love him: Watanabe does a lot of work for anime, which I’m not all that knowledgeable about. So, this is very much a “Bias List”-selected spotlight of his catalog. As far as idol acts go, he brings an immense, anthemic touch. There’s a specific, cathartic sound of his I’m particularly enamored with — characterized by works like Sexy Zone’s (super epic legendary) Run. But, he’s also at home with more subdued, acoustic fare and even heavy metal. Tying everything together is a gift for melody and arrangement — those most basic and vital components of a killer pop song.
Examples of his best work:
These are the type of songs I live for! I love how his melodies constantly attack you and I love his way of incorporating brass, and the messages his songs delivers.
God, J-pop producers are all so unique, different and talented, I think while I can make out similarities between the K-pop and western market, It feels to me that J-pop is completely different!
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Probably the best composer of 2020, looking forward to hearing more of his work!