Held for the first time in the city of skin, Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards were sizzling, energetic and colorful -- yet tame, by MTV standards.
There were no wardrobe malfunctions (sorry TiVo). Britney didn't kiss Madonna like last year -- or anyone else, for that matter (neither was at the blowout affair).
The most skin shown was from Usher, who preened in front of the camera bare-chested as simulated raindrops fell on his chiseled body during the opening performance.
Even Christina Aguilera was classy, dressed sexily yet demurely as she debuted a jazzy number, "Tilt Ya Head," with rapper Nelly. And the sometimes raunchy comedian Dave Chappelle even kept it relatively clean -- despite teasing that he wouldn't.
"It's the biggest mistake you made since Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl," he joked, alluding to the MTV-produced Super Bowl halftime flesh show that created a firestorm earlier this year.
There may have been plenty of sex appeal, but there was little shock appeal on hand, even though MTV was ready, using a several-second video delay for the first time. (The audio delay, used for years, was in heavy use during the hip-hop medley, which featured Lil Jon, Petey Pablo and Fat Joe.)
Still, MTV provided the already broiling Miami with even more sizzle as MTV brought its annual party to the city for the first time in the awards' 21-year history.
The change of scenery for the awards, typically held in New York or Los Angeles, helped raise the decadence level at the already raucous, celebrity-soaked affair, held downtown at AmericanAirlines Arena.
OutKast's vivid "Hey Ya!" -- perhaps best described as the old "Ed Sullivan Show" on acid -- won four awards, including video of the year. Jay-Z's "99 Problems," the most nominated video with six, also won four. The gritty black-and-white "99 Problems" depicts his own killing as a metaphor for his much-ballyhooed retirement, which has yet to happen.
"I felt like I was trying to push the envelope," Jay-Z, dressed in a dapper white suit and hat, said as he accepted a moon man for best rap video. "That was my punishment and this is my reward."
Usher won his first moon man as he took best male video for "Yeah!"
"This is my first time coming up here -- let me take my time with this," a beaming Usher said. "I'm so damned happy right now I don't wanna leave."
As usual, the awards were an afterthought to explosive performances and surprise cameos.
Alicia Keys gave a dramatic, soulful performance of her hit "If I Ain't Got You," buoyed by Stevie Wonder on harmonica. Moments later, she joined Wonder and Lenny Kravitz as they sang a classic Wonder hit, "Higher Ground."
The daughters of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and President Bush made an appearance -- the Bush daughters on videotape -- to urge people to vote. Even the Rev. Al Sharpton made an appearance connected to voting -- not for the election, though, but for the Viewers Choice award.
There was also an appearance by uber-twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Mary-Kate, who recently was treated for an eating disorder, alluded to her ordeal before introducing Jessica Simpson:
"Thank you to everyone -- you have been very supportive for the last couple of months," she said.
It was one of the few subdued moments during the lavish night.
Usher and Simpson arrived on the red carpet not by car, but by luxury yacht. Simpson, glamorously attired in a white dress with a silver bodice, arrived with husband and "Newlyweds" co-star Nick Lachey in a 68-foot boat.
The biggest entrance, not surprisingly, came from P. Diddy. Dressed in a white suit and with a Mohawk haircut, he arrived on a towering yacht along with Ma$e, Naomi Campbell and Bruce Willis.
The scene outside the arena was frenzied before the show. Performers Ashlee Simpson and Jadakiss rocked an energetic crowd while stars walked the red carpet, showing off their fashions -- or lack thereof. Lil' Kim looked anything but, as she almost burst out of the skimpy top of her flowing dress.
The show, held a day before the Republican National Convention was to kick off in New York City, ended on a patriotic note, as red, white and blue balloons fell from the rafters and fans held "vote" signs during OutKast's closing performance.
Winners of last night's awards:
Video of the year: OutKast, "Hey Ya!"
Best pop video: No Doubt, "It's My Life"
Best rap video: Jay-Z, "99 Problems"
Best female video: Beyonce, "Naughty Girl"
Best male video: Usher featuring Lil' Jon & Ludacris, "Yeah!"
Best R&B video: Alicia Keys, "If I Ain't Got You"
Best rock video: Jet, "Are You Gonna Be My Girl"
Breakthrough video: Franz Ferdinand, "Take Me Out"
Best director: Mark Romanek, "99 Problems"
Best special Effects: OutKast, "Hey Ya!"
Best art direction: OutKast, Hey Ya!"
Best editing: Jay-Z, "99 Problems"
Best cinematography: Jay-Z, "99 Problems"
Best choreography: Black Eyed Peas, "Hey Mama"
Best dance video: Usher, featuring Lil' Jon & Ludacris, "Yeah!"
Best hip-hop video: OutKast, "Hey Ya!"
Best group video: No Doubt, "It's My Life"
Best new artist in a video: Maroon 5, "This Love"
MTV2 award: Yellowcard, "Ocean Avenue"
Viewers Choice: Linkin Park, "Breaking the Habit"