The pop world's reigning divas dueled on the Grammys red carpet on Sunday, raising eyebrows with cleavage-baring looks, and politically charged fashion statements found a voice on the music industry's big night.
Fresh off her Super Bowl performance and due to sing with Metallica, Lady Gaga showed up just minutes before the awards show in a barely-there black vinyl bolero jacket, short shorts embossed with chains and thigh-high boots.
"There wasn't much of it," deadpanned television host Ryan Seacrest of the outfit during the E! red carpet broadcast.
Earlier, singer Joy Villa drew gasps when she removed a generous white cape with a flourish to reveal a form-fitting "Make America Great Again" dress underneath, with "Trump" written up the back.
Chance the Rapper, nominated for nine Grammys, sported a black hoodie with "Obama" written on the back and "Thank you" on the front.
A red carpet no-show was Beyonce, pregnant with twins. But the diva with nine Grammys nominations made up for it onstage during her performance, channeling a powerful earth goddess complete with gold crown and ethereal gown.
Vying with Beyonce for all three top awards - album, song and record of the year - was Adele, who wrapped herself in a long-sleeved, lichen green, sparkling Givenchy gown that crossed the bodice, in one of the more modest looks on the red carpet.
A platinum blonde Katy Perry poured herself into a Tom Ford ensemble that was molten champagne gold on top with purple feathers below. The outspoken pop star broached politics, but kept it non-committal.
"There's so much divisiveness and people on one side or the other and we just need to listen to each other," Perry said.
PUSHING FASHION'S LIMITS
The Grammys is where pop stars push the envelope on fashion beyond the more classic dress-up looks worn by their film colleagues two weeks later at the Academy Awards, whether barely covered flesh or head-scratching spectacle - such as Gaga's arrival at the 2011 Grammys in a translucent egg.
Paris Jackson, the 19-year-old daughter of pop icon Michael Jackson, wore a multicolored beaded Balmain gown, and stayed coy about her future music plans: "I guess we'll find out," she teased.
Carrie Underwood, nominated for the country song "Church Bells," wore a Nashville-worthy red sparkling number with a cut-out cleavage. Red, with a cutout at the bodice, was also the color choice for country singer Faith Hill.
Similarly, and true to J-Lo form, Jennifer Lopez wore a cleavage-revealing lavender gown - what she called an "orchid confection" - with a dramatic bow at the neck.
(Additional reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Bill Rigby)