7 Music Videos From The 2000s That Tried So Hard To Be Tough... But Totally Failed

Since Beyoncé was making short films for her self-titled visual album, and Kanye West was getting all artistic on us, it's easy to forget that music videos throughout the 2000s were not always a step above their early counterparts. Gone were the majority of music videos with carnival references or those space-themed futuristic clips. But, if you look a little closer, you'll see, just like in the '90s, artists in the early 2000s were still trying to show how hard they could be. Whether they were trying to be gangsta or gangster, there was this need to show that they could brave anything that comes their way. However, I'm here to say that there was no sudden rise in street cred because, unfortunately, most of these music videos from the early 2000s that tried too hard to be hard failed miserably.

Maybe it's because of social media that it's become harder to fake tough. We just know too much about their personal lives to ever believe they'd get into a fight, making these tough guy and girl moments seem more like Get Hard than Training Day. Even before she was the Queen, no one really thought Beyoncé was from the street. Nor would anyone really peg Justin Timberlake as the tough guy or Michael Jackson as the enemy of any mafia dons. And break dance fighting, sorry to tell you Black Eyed Peas, will never be considered hard.

These videos aren't necessarily bad, they just miss the mark when it comes to being tough. But no worries: these artists are probably lovers, not fighters anyway.

1. Christina Aguilera, "Dirrty" (2002)

CAguileraVEVO on YouTube

In this filthy looking video, Aguilera was so dirty that she thought she needed an extra "R." But, that "R" really should have stood for ridiculous, since that's exactly how you would describe what it's like to watch the former Mouseketeer try to prove she's a featherweight boxing champ in a pair of chaps.

2. 50 Cent, "Many Men (Wish Death)" (2009)

50CentVEVO on YouTube

This was the dirty version, but it seemed more like a low-budget version of Goodfellas, a movie the rapper shouts out in one of his verses. There's a drive-by shooting, some large silver briefcases, and a lot of shirtless shots of 50 Cent in a warehouse trying to show how tough he is. But the moment 50 rolls up in a wheelchair, it seems more like Get Hard than any of Martin Scorsese's movies.

3. Michael Jackson, "You Rock My World" (2001)

michaeljacksonVEVO on YouTube

With this video, it's very hard to decide what is more unbelievable: Jackson as a sex symbol or as a gun-toting criminal? And that's saying a lot being that Marlon Brando also makes a cameo in this video. No disrespect to the King of Pop! I'd just prefer to watch him dance without all this pomp and circumstance.

4. Akon Feat. Styles P, "Locked Up" (2004)

AkonVEVO on YouTube

This song is all about being in jail, but it's hard to feel Akon's pain when he's posed up against the wall in his orange jumpsuit, singing so angelically — especially when he's talking about not being able to eat lunch with his prison buddies. This video may want to be like the 1979 documentary, Scared Straight!, but, in reality, it plays more like a terrible after school special. Don't do drugs, kids.

5. The Black Eyed Peas, "Pump It" (2006)

BlackEyedPeasVEVO on YouTube

The group tried to go all Fast & Furious on everyone with this drag racing clip, but it also features a dance rivalry that certainly didn't leave anyone shaking in their boots. Or, in this video's case, their Capezio's.

6. Justin Timberlake, "What Goes Around... Comes Around" (2006)

justintimberlakeVEVO on YouTube

The former 'NSYNC frontman roughs up Scarlett Johansson, his girlfriend, who he thinks is stepping out behind his back. But with him shouting "You don't know me!" in feigned anger, it's really hard to take him seriously as the jealous boyfriend.

7. Destiny's Child, "Soldier" (2004)

DestinysChildVEVO on YouTube

Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams sang all about the hood in this video that has them looking for a guy who's street, if you know what they mean. But it's definitely hard to figure out their definition in this black and white clip that makes the ladies seem more like they're playing dress-up than like true soldiers.

What do we learn from these seven videos? That it's way tougher than you may think to actually look tough.

Images: RCA