MIAMI – Usher (search) waved to fans from the bow of a long silver and blue luxury yacht as he and other celebrities pulled up to the back of the AmericanAirlines arena in sleek boats.
Usher, who kicked off the show with a medley of his club anthem "Yeah!" and his ballad "Burn," arrived early and bragged that he had the biggest yacht. (P. Diddy, who came in a huge white boat, might quibble with that contention, however).
The boats arrived amid the backdrop of shimmering Biscayne Bay, cruise ships and smaller vessels with bikini-clad girls and shirtless guys looking on.
Usher described his look, with a white suit, white hat and canary-diamond earrings, as "simply sexy."
"My vibe is 'dinero' (Spanish for money) and my character is Tito Bond," joked Usher.
As usual, the MTV Awards were a display of all kinds of fashion styles on the red carpet, from shock rocker Marilyn Manson's gothic black suit, silver tie and slicked hair to Ashanti's black dress with silver and gold designs that showed a good bit of cleavage.
But Ashanti (search) wasn't alone in showing off her body. Lil' Kim showed up as well, with a silver, black and pink dress covering very little of her voluptuous figure. Christina Milian, Beyonce and Ashlee Simpson also showed a good amount of skin.
Simpson said it was the first time she worn such a sexy outfit.
"And there's no padding," she said.
For the men, it was cool colors to deal with the Miami heat. Usher and fellow hip-hop impresarios Jay-Z and P. Diddy and new Miami Heat member Shaquille O'Neal all wore white suits. P.Diddy also sported a Mohawk haircut.
Rock group Good Charlotte showed up wearing all black, while the Beastie Boys wore matching green mechanic's worksuits, "designed by Versace," joked Mike D.
As for the bling-bling, long necklaces were the rage, with rapper Nelly, reggae artist Elephant Man and actress Carmen Electra among those wearing them.
Most everyone had an opinion on the sweaty weather.
Comedian Jimmy Fallon , clearly perspiring under his orange "Miami Beach" T-shirt, had some quips about the heat.
"I fell like I wrestled Sponge Bob," Fallon said.
Lil' Kim — a big fan of Miami's scene — felt right at home, though, saying she often turns off her air conditioning at home.
As for Marilyn Manson, who's lived in South Florida, the blazing sun didn't bother him.
"I sold my soul, so I don't sweat," he said.
Gwen Stefani (search) of No Doubt said she didn't make plans to come to the show until the last minute. Good thing, considering the band won for best pop video for its rebellious "It's My Life."
"I feel overdressed," Stefani said, wearing a strapless aqua top with ruffles and a red, hip-hugging dress.
The awards seem to lean toward recognizing the hip-hop genre more than the old mainstay of MTV — rock 'n' roll.
While trying to stay politically correct, Ryan Key of Yellowcard said "Yes," when asked if he thought that rock was overlooked at the MTV awards and similar events.
"The hip-hop guys get about 10 minutes on stage, and we get about four, but I still like hip-hop" said Key, whose band joined with fellow rockers Jet and Hoobastank for a powerful performance of their nominated songs.
Dan Estrin of Hoobastank also agreed, but was cautious because "I don't want to get MTV mad at me."
But former Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth brushed off the belief that rock is underexposed at the awards.
"If rock is being overlooked, you're no good," he said. "If you didn't get chosen, your stuff stank."