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Adam Lambert: Get the birthday cake ready

San Diego’s Adam Lambert turns 28 on January 29, which is something to celebrate. Someone should give him a sparkly, blue-gold cake with a picture of his face on it, complete with cocoa-based eye shadow and dark chocolate guyliner.

His birthday is also a good reason to look back and see how much has happened in the last year to the singer-songwriter-actor who grew up in Rancho Peñasquitos and became the Season 8 runner-up on “American Idol.”

As Oprah Winfrey recently said, “This time last year, most people had never heard of Adam Lambert.”

Unless they’ve spent time on another planet, they’ve heard of him now.

After TV appearances, recordings and magazine spreads as well as accolades and controversy, Adam is not just a performer but a genuine celebrity, whose identify is rooted in pop culture.

How far has he ventured? An extraordinarily long way.

Just take a look at the time line:

January 30, 2009: Word gets out that Adam is one of the Top 36 contestants on Season 8 of “American Idol.” Friends, family and a relatively small group of fans are excited. General response: (Yawn) Adam who?

February 11: Top 36 announced on “American Idol.” Yes, Adam is on the ever-so-long list.

March 11: Adam in the Top 11.

March 18: Adam lands a coveted spot in the Top 10. He’s really on his way, although the outcome is far from certain.

April 8: Adam is one of the Top 7.

April 14: His performance of Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild,” is something of a turning point, displaying his rock ‘n roll virtuosity in unmistakably vivid terms.

April 25: Adam’s ascendance continues, as he’s named one of the Top 5 contestants.

May 8: San Diego ecstatically welcomes home Adam, then a Top 3 “Idol” finalist.

May 20: The “American Idol” winner is announced during the Season 8 finale. In an upset that stuns Adam’s fans, Kris Allen, the then-23-year-old singer-songwriter from Arkansas, emerges as the victor, with Adam the runner-up. Nevertheless, Adam’s star power is undeniable.

May 21: Adam’s version of the song “No Boundaries” is made available for download on iTunes.

May 22: Adam and his fellow “Idol” cast-mates appear on CNN’s “Larry King Live.”

June 7: Adam is named “Young Hollywood Artist of the Year” and receives the award from “American Idol” judge Kara DioGuardi.

June 9: Adam is signed to 19 Recordings and licensed to RCA Records, a major step up.

June 11: Adam posts his first tweet on his confirmed Twitter account.

June 12: The “Rolling Stone” issue featuring Adam hits newsstands. In the cover story interview, he acknowledges that he is gay. The news only surprises those who still think Liberace was straight.

June 12: Adam appears on ABC’s “20/20.”

June 19: Hi Fi Recordings and Wilshire Records announce that they will be releasing “On With the Show,” a compilation of songs Lambert had recorded prior to “American Idol.” The first single, “Want,” is released.

June 19: Adam makes an official statement regarding the release of his old recordings. He explains that his musical style has changed from the work he did in the past: “Back in 2005 when I was a struggling artist, I was hired as a studio singer to lend my vocals to tracks written by someone else. I was broke at the time and this was my chance to make a few bucks, so I jumped at the opportunity to record for my first time in a professional studio. The work I did back then in no way reflects the music I am currently in the studio working on.”

June 30: “‘American Idol’ Season 8″ compilation album is released.

July 5: “American Idol” 2009 Summer Tour kicks off in Portland, Oregon.

July 8: Adam discovers just how enthusiastic his female fans can be when underwear is thrown on stage during the Vancouver concert.

July 18: “Idol” tour comes to the San Diego Sports Arena, thrilling local fans.

Aug. 7: Adam performs on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Aug. 10: “Teen Choice Awards” air on Fox. Adam is nominated for two awards, wins in the “Choice TV: Male Reality/Variety Star” category.

Sept. 15: “Idol” tour ends in Manchester, New Hampshire. Adam’s gravity-defying hair style seems a reflection of the high spirits.

October 19: Adam reveals the title of his debut album: “For Your Entertainment.”

October 20: Adam’s “Time for Miracles” music video is released, with the song to be featured in the soundtrack for Roland Emmerich’s disaster flick, “2012.”

November 13: “2012″ released. Movie trounced by many critics but grosses about $770 million worldwide and expands Adam’s international audience.

November 22: Adam gives a controversial, sexually-suggestive performance of the title track from “For Your Entertainment” at the American Music Awards. (”My goal was not to piss people off,” Adam tells Rolling Stone. “It was to promote freedom of expression and artistic freedom.”) “Good Morning America” cancels his appearance but other offers roll in. Adam ends up on shows hosted by everyone from David Letterman to Ellen DeGeneres.

November 23: Release of “For Your Entertainment,” Adam’s first album with 19 Recordings/RCA.

December: Adam picked as one of the year’s top entertainers by Entertainment Weekly, MTV News and a variety of other media outlets.

Dec. 3: Adam donates his KISS-inspired costume and killer platform boots from “American Idol’s” Season 8 Finale to the memorabilia collection at Hard Rock Hotel San Diego.

December 9-10: Adam’s Barbara Walters double-header, first as part of “10 Most Fascinating People of 2009″ (Dec. 9) and then as a guest on “The View” (Dec. 10).

December 21: Adam makes an appearance on Jay Leno’s show, a sign of mainstream stardom.

January 15, 2010: Premiere of “Whataya Want From Me” music video. Adam is depicted as a rather lonely superstar who is besieged by fans and paparazzi. (Ah, the price of success.)

January 19: Adam appears on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” He says: “I kinda asked for something to happen…I didn’t expect it to be this huge…the universe came through.”

January 29: Adam turns 28. Happy birthday!

SDNN intern Kristina Blake contributed to this story.

Valerie Scher is the SDNN Arts & Entertainment editor. You can reach her at valerie.scher(at)sdnn.com; follow her on Twitter.