MARIAH CAREY showed a lot of leg when she opened the American Music Awards in Los Angeles last night (22NOV05) in a shimmering silver gown cut right up to her hip.

The pop superstar wowed fans at the Shrine Auditorium when she performed ballad WE BELONG TOGETHER in the stunning designer dress, which showed off her right leg.

But obvious vocal problems ruined her performance and she gushed, "We made it," at the end of her opening tune.

Upon picking up the night's first award as Best R+B Soul Female in a semi-chest baring sequined black gown, Carey explained why her opening number had been so fraught, and she praised AMA's organiser Larry Klein for stopping her from making an embarrassing fashion slip-up on the stage.

In her acceptance speech, she said, "I have to thank Larry Klein because I was literally... You saw me run across the stage... My dress was not sewn on, my ear monitor thing not hooked up, so if anybody saw me pulling out things out of my ear that was me, like, 'I've gotta just freestyle and do what I've gotta do.' If it wasn't right, I tried, I did the best I could."

Country star Kenny Chesney followed Carey as the evening got underway, which was set to become a great night for the comeback queen, who led the nominees with four nods at the 33rd annual AMAs including two for her chart-topping album The Emancipation Of Mimi.

Bow Wow, Lindsay Lohan, Cyndi Lauper, Tim Mcgraw, Santana, Los Lonely Boys, the reformed Eurythmics and the Rolling Stones were among the other acts scheduled to perform at the awards show, which was hosted by funnyman Cedric The Entertainer, as went to press.