This isn't as much a statement about the quality or preference of the style of music - though, I must say that what passes for "pop" music so often falls short of both being listenable and worthy of being referred to as music; at least in my opinion.
If you watch the American Music Awards, the VMA's, or any of the dozens of other shows that "celebrate" pop music, you see lip syncing, obnoxious tirades, poor production and in general, a show that lacks its main goal, entertainment. The country music awards shows are the polar opposite - packed with real, live performances, minimal bullshit and pure entertainment.
Yes, you do need to like country music but you also might need to get the stick out of your ass if you happen to be one of those people who "don't like country music' without having taken the time to actually listen to it.
My first exposure to country music was as a small boy. Back then, country music had no resemblance to pop music and almost never crossed over; it was a very distinct sound and mind set that was far closer to being something that you either liked or didn't like with not much middle ground. I recall not liking it all that much partly because I was so focused on the sound of rock and roll music, which was still relatively young and partly because my dad like country music and there was a natural rebellion on my part.
The 1980's saw the beginning of a new generation of country music that began to evolve the "traditional" sound of what the world new as country music and that evolution kept rolling. I began paying closer attention and buying records in this genre in the mid to late 1980's and my love for the genre has grown from there. In fact, I even really love digging back into the hard core traditional country sounds at the same time, I love the crossover sounds of the modern day country artists.
Another thing I love about where country music has stayed for many years is the loyalty of the fan base and the artists to the fans - it's moving and it makes a difference.
Music means so much to me, I love many different styles/genres and respect that just because I may not like some of it, doesn't mean that it isn't good or without purpose. I do feel like the last 15 years or so has seen some really crap being passed off as music and I have no idea how some of these people can even be referred to as artists. However, I recognize that this is my opinion and even though I may not be alone in that opinion, I know there are many who find joy in that which I, dare I say, in some cases hate and even have zero respect for the creators as artists, or even people (see Kanye).
***seemingly abrupt end***