American Idol's ratings are falling to record lows, and Scott Collins of the Los Angeles Times is all over the reasons why. Collins blames the bloated two-hour charity special, Idol Gives Back; the writer's strike; generic show fatigue; the contestants; the presentation, Facebook; and CBS boss Les Moonves' undercover operatives. But that's the least of it. Here are the four real reasons the Fox talent show has finally lost its opiate-strength hold on America's masses. (Difficulty level: 9).

1. The judges' many other projects. Those of you who enjoy Randy Jackson's Music Club Vol. 1 do so at your own peril. With Paula's lukewarm single and Simon focusing on the promotion British winner Leona Lewis' new album, the judges are stretched thin this season, and that's without getting into the

Sophie Monk-Ryan Seacrest "relationship." How long before Mike Myers is judging contestants as the Love Guru? Pray that we do not see that day.

2. The fragility of Jordin Sparks' career. Who can think of a new Idol at a time like this? Can the sublime talent of such classics as God Loves Ugly and Permanent Monday recover from possible

vocal cord damage? How many more lives will the Idol juggernaut claim? Surely some willing fan no longer needs his/her vocal cords. What about the crying girl? Are her cords available?

3. The possibility that David Archuleta might not sing "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" this week. Come on, David. Your father no longer holds sway over you. We kept our promise, David. Don't keep your distance. Don't let Syesha or (Simon forbid!) Brooke take the song that is rightfully yours. Speaking of Brooke...

4. Brooke White. It's not just Brooke's amazing ability to talk over the judges ("I already know what you're going to say, let me stop you, I know, I know, I know"), tattooed boyfriend and admittance that she's never seen an R-rated movie that may be causing viewers to check their Facebook profiles instead of watching the show. Nor is it the logorrhoea that caused White to thank half of Arizona

and the entire Church of Latter Day Saints on the back of her first CD. Until Brooke anticipates her own

departure from the show at the very moment she's kicked off ("I know, I'm done, I know you're going to say I'm going to have a great career, I know, thank you") Idol ratings may stay in the tank.