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:


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Publisher: Nick