Sure, there was skin. There were sequins. There were feathers. But from the VMAs, for gosh sakes — from Gaga, Katy and Ke$ha! — frankly we expected a little less cutesy, a little more rock 'n' roll.

Observe, if you will, a parade of gowns that could have graced any red carpet without embarrassment! This is when Karina Smirnoff gets restrained?


Ashley Greene is Sweet 16-ready.


Rosario Dawson opted for leather, but in a classic shape.


Ditto Emma Stone


Miranda Cosgrove would be a dainty "good" in any context — and since she makes a point of keeping it role-model refined, it's hard to fault her.


Naturi Naughton's palette is sophisticated indeed; it risks getting lost amidst the upcoming barrage of sparkles.


Because, when in doubt, they went sparkle-motion. See Lenay Dunn's rosy take.


Love that Amber Riley matched hers with assertive specs.


Lo Bosworth, vaguely retro, definitely ill-judged.


Stephanie Pratt, per usual, checked the "sexy" option on the menu card.


And Audrina Partridge was ready for Ice Capades.


If you're gonna do VMA sparkle, go all-out, like Lauren McKnight!


Don't worry, there was still some outrageousness, albeit minimalist. Ke$ha brought the Mad Max.


Eva Pigford was equal parts exposed and embellished.


Katy Perry raided the ice-dancing costume shop, flashed a little boob, and called it a day.


One of the few to really commit, Laurie Ann Gibson.


With everyone else in sparkle and flash, Gaga went all regal, summoning a sinister Red Queen.


Kinda digging that Coco Rocha just did what she does: gorgeous in a glam gown.


And while Jane Lynch looks ready to take on an unruly class at Hogwarts, it's a look she can pull off.


Meanwhile, does anyone else think Bieber looks ridiculous?