From the preview of “The Prelude Pathétique,” I knew that the opening sequence to Lady Gaga‘s “Marry The Night” would be a downhill gurney ride for me.

Lady Gaga’s whole “My lies are my truth are my lies” circuitous pseudo-philosophical nonsense has never, ever appealed to me, and it clearly wasn’t about to win me over now: Her monologue is an absolute groan-fest of try-hard ~artistic abstractions~, and with every obnoxious (“It’s sort of like my past is an unfinished painting”), cheesy (“I wish they’d only given me the gummy bears”), cliche (“I’m going to be a star”) line that followed, my eyes only rolled harder as she went from a girl with nothing to lose to a ballet girl-turned-bad ass.

To me, much of the prelude–from the painfully long widescreen shot of the clinic, to the muffled audio with French subtitles, to the over-the-top absurdities (that Cheerios freakout, anyone?), to the extended Black Swan ballet sequence–reeked of an overly eager Freshman in college only too happy to show off her findings after taking her first Intro to Film class.

By the end–as if to add further insult to injury–as she finally saunters out into the hallway of the ballet school with her newly dyed blonde do, bedazzled jean jacket and that unmistakable bad girl cockiness, I couldn’t help but angrily mutter under my breath the first time I saw it: Madonna.

Seven minutes of pretentious self-indulgence presented as “art.”

Mercifully, once the actual song kicks in, the video becomes fucking phenomenal: From the very first explosive moments–the dirty puddle diving, the fierce-as-fuck posing against her slick metal of her ride, and the fiery kerosene explosions, it’s all systems go as “Marry The Night” finally revs its engines onward.

The dance studio scenes are even more impressive, as Gaga shows off her ever-improved dancing skills (and tight ‘n’ toned physique) to the tune of several flawless choreographed routines.

But it’s the last sequence of the video that really counts (and finally make the video click for me): In two minutes of frantically spliced footage during the song’s crashing finale, we see flashes of Fame-era Gaga, hauling her massive keyboard through hallways, crouched in bathroom stalls, tripping down the stairs and struggling to fit into car doors with her humorously over-sized hats and haute couture.

This is the kind of story I can actually get behind. It’s Gaga before she was really GAGA, struggling flopping, and working her ass off after being dropped from Def Jam. We see her going from rock bottom to an Interscope Records audition–all to get to where she is today. A slightly dark, slightly self-mocking narrative…it’s genius.

By the end of the video–despite my very strong convictions about that opening–“Marry The Night” still ranks among one of Gaga’s strongest clips, and it’s certainly her most personal to date. When it’s slimmed down to just the actual song, the clip will make for a perfect companion piece to the Born This Way album opener.

Take a cue from the meat dress, Gaga: Trim the fat.

“Marry The Night” was released to radio in November. (iTunes)