The Szish Dish: A Rockin' VMA Red Carpet

No matter where you are, the pumping, bumping, thumping beat of the MTV Video Music Awards will find you.

To wit, after melting in the sweltering August-in-Miami heat for the last two VMA romps -- and despite the fact that summer's biggest party was finally taking place in my hometown of New York City this year -- I rebelled, hanging up the Szish Dish hat to chill out at the Parker Palm Springs, my favorite spot in the universe.

Yet somehow, while sipping lemonade, succumbing to shiatsu, and drooling over the Jonathan Adler decor, I had visions of Justin Timberlake, Jessica Simpson, Christina Aguilera and yes, even Diddy, dancing in my head.

The VMA mantra "Anything can happen" seemed to echo from every palm tree.

I couldn't look at a coconut without thinking of Lil' Kim's uh, memorable, ensembles from red carpets past.

Even in paradise, the VMAs found me.

Thus, I bring you the Szish Dish -- not live from the red carpet, but live from a galaxy far, far away from the MTV silver moon man.

Leave it to the Big Apple to bring out the best in the often questionably clad members of the music community.

Compared to years past -- where T-shirts, gaudy white suits (complete with matching hats), and skimpy slips of slinky fabrics were considered carpet worthy -- the sartorial offerings at Radio City Music Hall were considerably more sophisticated.

Now, that is not to say the word "disaster" could not be used to describe certain ensembles, but the Szish Dish sends out a round of applause for the many whose fashion choices were right on key.

Standing Ovations

Christina Aguilera may be single-handedly responsible for bringing Hollywood glamour to the music world.

Madonna and Gwen Stefani have dabbled in the past, but Christina has embraced the look and made it her own, as evidenced in her music, in her videos, and -- looking as if she'd just stepped out of a George Hurrell photograph -- in her dazzling Versace gown on the red carpet.

Beyonce has never looked better. Her simple, soft hair and makeup was the ideal counterpoint to her decadent, white, rhinestone-encrusted gown. I'm going to pretend the black patent-leather hot-pants outfit she wore when she took center stage didn't happen.

Fergie's chic, flowing mini dress was both sultry and feminine. The wide black ribbon in her hair added coquettish flair. It was a welcome contrast to the outfit she wore while performing on the red carpet during the preshow.

Justin Timberlake proved to be more Hollywood than homeboy. This boy-band grad has hit the big leagues.

The Boo-Boos

Vanessa Minnillo raised some questions. Is that the same dress she wore to the Emmys but in a different color? Time to trash the leftover pageant dresses, Vanessa.

Snoop was all bark and no bite. His sloppy ensemble and do-rag didn't do it for me.

Johnny Knoxville and gang, back together again for "Jackass: Number Two," which hits theaters Sept. 22, looked like, well, a bunch of jackasses.

Jessica Simpson took a turn for the worse. What happened to my favorite golden goddess and ruler of the red carpet?! Besides the fact that her presentation performance was awkward, the plain, black spandex micromini dress was just plain tacky.

Pink's partially shaved head and ill-fitting palazzo pants made her look like a "Stupid Girl," which won best pop video.

Amy Lee of Evanescence went Transylvanian. Who knew Elvira had a daughter?

Lil' Kim is out of jail, but is still guilty of serious fashion crimes.

Almost but Not Quite

Nick Lachey was clean shaven. His hair looked masculine and sexy. He wore a slim-fitting blazer. But he blew the whole look with his white v-neck T-shirt (and shaved chest?!)

Jennifer Lopez made a chic nod to fall's mod minitrend with her gold, Lurex dress, but the matching head scarf didn't work.

Paris Hilton had great hair, simple jewelry, and an elegant '50s-inspired cocktail dress. Props for Paris! But she wore boots. I get that black ankle booties are all the rage for fall, but it's not fall yet and they ruined an otherwise A+ look.

VMA Style Tribes

The VMAs are a bit like high school, and I'm not just referring to the detention-deserving antics.

Rather, there are countless cliques -- or, as I like to call them, "Style Tribes."

So, instead of diving into the trends, let's take a look at the tribes.

The Mod Squad: This group sports shaggy 'dos and skinny suits galore. They include the Raconteurs (the first-ever VMA house band, led by Jack White, rocked the stage and the carpet); the All-American Rejects; Panic! at the Disco; and the Killers (with a dash of '70s Framton-esque kitsch.)

The Glamazons: They're the ones dripping with glitz, glamour, and all that good stuff, and they include Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, Rihanna, Ciara and Jack Black (the unofficial tribe mascot in his gold Lurex suit.)

Ladies in White: Whether sexy or sophisticated, these girls cleaned up the carpet: Fergie, Paris Hilton, Rihanna, Nicole Richie and Beyonce.

Men in Suits: Guys gone GQ, in pinstripes and vests, include Marc Anthony and Diddy, who didn't speak on the red carpet. He actually had another gentleman speaking on his behalf. Forget the zoot suit and say hello to the mute suit. Let's not forget Justin Timberlake, who rocked with a three-piece suit on the carpet before rocking out on stage. Go JT!

Hat Heads: Sometimes you can put a lid on it in a good way. Witness Jay Z, LL Cool J, Pharrell and 50 Cent.

Welcome back to New York, VMAs! I'll definitely be there next year -- in the flesh.