From a comment at Saving Country Music:
I can’t tell you how many people discount the opinions of younger listeners just because they had the misfortune of being born after everything supposedly went to hell for music. This, I’d say, is the crux of the “country music must evolve” argument from the mainstream: acting like the only “real” country music available stopped getting made 30 years ago in the mainstream is what causes people to backpedal the other way.
Do those younger people’s opinions get dismissed just because of their age? Or do they get dismissed because they think that everything before Garth and Shania is just “tired old stuff” (as one Hot New Country station in Houston put it back in the late 1990s) and thus no good? Based on what I’ve seen, I can’t help but think it’s the latter; you can look at Farce the Music’s recurring “Country Twitterfail” feature for perfect examples of this.
And why should these people be taken seriously? One of the defining features of country music is its reverence for its roots and heritage — respect for those who came before, if you want to put it like that. You listen to the likes of Florida-Georgia Line and Luke Bryan and none of that reverence is evident in their music; country’s just a label to them, not a genre with a history that commands and deserves respect.
And sure, country music has to evolve. If it didn’t it would become more or less a historical artifact of American culture, much like, say, jazz music. But how does that argument justify, for example, Jason Aldean being the mainstream star and getting the radio airplay instead of Jason Boland? Which song is the better representation of country music — “Burnin’ it Down” or “Ludlow”? I know my answer, and I bet you know my answer too.